Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans (April 22, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Chasson Randle helped spearhead a spirited Orlando Magic defensive effort in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Chasson Randle helped spearhead a spirited Orlando Magic defensive effort in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic hope to put together a 48-minute effort as they face Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans to start a three-game homestand.

Orlando Magic (18-40) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (25-33)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Pelicans by 7.5
Tickets: $27-$9,299 on StubHub
2021 Season Series: Magic 115, Pelicans 110 in New Orleans on April 1; Tonight in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
New Orleans99.7114.0114.854.130.614.329.3

OMD Prediction

If everything goes as planned Thursday, the Orlando Magic will face Zion Williamson for the first time in his career. Everyone should be bracing for the experience. The Orlando Magic got lucky in their first matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans that they did not see Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram or any of the Pelicans’ main scorers. They will not be so lucky this time.

New Orleans does all the things Orlando struggles with right now. The Pelicans are a big team with Zion Williamson and Steven Adams. They attack the offensive glass well and they have enough shooters to keep defenses honest. The Pelicans are on a losing streak and tend to implode late in games. But the Magic are struggling to shoot and keep up or handle the glass.

69. 103. 38. Prediction. 112

3 Keys To Watch

Make Shots

Anything with the Orlando Magic is going to start with their ability to shoot. The Magic can play really well and do a lot of good things defensively, but it will not matter if the team cannot score. The Magic’s shooting woes since the trade deadline is well documented.

Orlando is last in the NBA since the trade deadline with 43.0-percent shooting from the field. The team has the worst 3-point field goal percentage (30.3-percent). The Magic make the fewest 3-point field goals per game (8.4 per game). This is all to say, the Magic need to make threes and shots to win.

Making shots would help. But even in wins, the Magic have the worst field goal percentage, worst 3-point field goal percentage and the fewest 3-pointers made of any team in the league. Orlando’s offense is a really tough cookie to crack. The team needs to make enough shots to allow its defense to get set. But the Magic are truly struggling to do some very simple things.

Fourth Quarter Collapses

The New Orleans Pelicans are starting to fade from the Play-In Tournament race. A four-game losing streak has left them fading in the standings. It is not for lack of trying. The Pelicans have lost two of those games in overtime. In many of them, they had the lead in the fourth quarter. Their frustrating overtime loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday came because of a poor decision and execution late.

The Pelicans this year are 14-17 in clutch situations this year — games within five points in the final five minutes. They have a break-even 0.0 net rating in those situations. They are essentially an even team in clutch situations (as expected) that has hit a run of bad luck in close finishes. New Orleans has a -1.1 net rating in the fourth quarter this year and -2.5 net rating since the trade deadline (the Orlando Magic actually have the second-worst fourth-quarter rating since the deadline).

Cole’s World

Nothing is more exciting than a rookie coming into his own and figuring out the league. Rookies go through the regular ups and downs of the league and so their upswings are genuinely exciting. Nobody is sure if what we are seeing is real or consistent. But they have to start somewhere.

After two months on the injured list with a fractured rib, Cole Anthony has hit the ground running. He is averaging 13.4 points per game and 5.9 assists per game while finishing at the rim with higher efficiency and volume.

Next. Orlando Magic need aggression to make gains. dark

Anthony had shown some signs of his potential that are coming together. He still needs to improve his 3-point shooting (21.9-percent since the deadline), but there are plenty of signs that this will improve over time too. Anthony has been the brightest spot for the Magic the last few outings.