Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers (April 25, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic have had to restart and watch careful progress to win in the first quarter. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic have had to restart and watch careful progress to win in the first quarter. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The injury bug for the Orlando Magic has hit their coach as they prepare to take on the Indiana Pacers. A few veterans could find themselves back in the lineup in time.

Orlando Magic (18-41) vs. Indiana Pacers (28-31)

Time/TV: 8 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Pacers by 5.5
Tickets: $9-$299 on StubHub
2021 Season Series: Pacers 120, Magic 118 in Indianapolis on Jan. 22; Pacers 111, Magic 106 in Orlando on April 9; Tonight in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

OMD Prediction

The injury gods giveth and they taketh away. The Orlando Magic were probably looking ahead to some good news when they upgraded Wendell Carter, James Ennis and Terrence Ross to questionable. A practice would have gone some ways to determine if they could play and that would help the team a ton. Then Steve Clifford tests positive for COVID-19 and the whole team gets upended. We know at this point that Clifford is out for Sunday’s game.

The Indiana Pacers have their own injury issues with Goga Bitadze, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner all missing Saturday’s game. The Pacers are a smaller team right now and that would make getting a player like Carter back a huge deal to give the team some advantage on the inside. But this game comes down to everything games against the Pacers always come down to — limiting turnovers and defending the 3-point line.

103. 100. 104. 38. Prediction

3 Keys To Watch

One little bright spot

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford told everyone to ignore the box score from Thursday’s 135-100 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. A lot of guys padded their stats in garbage time in a game where the team just showed no effort or consistency defensively. It probably is not completely bad though. There were a few pockets of good things.

Typically in a 35-point blowout, you will see a team with a large number of turnovers. But this team has been very good with turnovers — a league-leading 11.4-percent turnover rate since the deadline — and at least that part of Clifford’s philosophy has taken hold. The Magic had only four turnovers in Thursday’s game.

Playing the Pacers is all about avoiding turnovers. The Pacers are an average team in forcing turnovers, but they average 18.4 points off turnovers per game this season, third in the league. This is a team that pummels teams for their mistakes. It is how they stayed in the game and defeated the Detroit Pistons on Saturday despite a massive rebounding disadvantage.

Battle on the glass

The Orlando Magic have won most of their games since the trade deadline by taking advantage of absences from their opponent’s lineup. This is a team that you cannot sleepwalk and play especially when they have some motivation. Coming back after a 35-point loss should be plenty of motivation to play well and play hard. Where can the Magic press this advantage against the Pacers? That would have to be on the defensive glass.

With Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Goga Bitadze out Saturday, the Indiana Pacers got outrebounded 62-39 by the Detroit Pistons, including giving up 15 offensive rebounds. The Pacers started JaKarr Sampson at center with Oshae Brissett filling in for him. The Pacers can still be dangerous in the open floor and they are a high-3-point shooting team, so they can function without a center. But Detroit made a living in the paint.

Rebounding has not been the Magic’s strength since the trade deadline. They post a 71.7-percent defensive rebound rate (26th in the league) since the trade deadline. Getting Wendell Carter back would help the Magic attack the glass more. And Chuma Okeke will have to be more active on the glass. But with such a small lineup everyone has to do their part. The Pacers too are last in the league in defensive rebound rate since the deadline, so teams can beat them on the offensive glass.

3-point shooting

Sorry if this sounds like a broken record, but this game still comes down to whether the Orlando Magic are able to hit shots and defend the 3-point line. It can be that simple. The Orlando Magic gave up their share of 3-pointers in Thursday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, but their own poor shooting likely cost them that game — both Mohamed Bamba and Chuma Okeke missed open threes early which started the team down into that hole.

Next. Orlando Magic must find their diamond in the rough. dark

The Pacers are 19th in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (35.7-percent) and 19th in makes per game (12.3 per game). But in the two games against the Magic, the Pacers have made 23 of 61 3-pointers (37.7-percent). Orlando is the worst 3-point shooting team in the league. Getting some veterans like Terrence Ross and James Ennis would help them a ton. But their ability to stick with things and give themselves a chance depends on hitting from the outside.