Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets (April 7, 2022): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs continues to show sign of renewed life but his rookie struggles mirror the team's issues. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs continues to show sign of renewed life but his rookie struggles mirror the team's issues. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic play their final road game of the season as they eagerly wait to see their starting backcourt together again and battle a playoff-hungry team.

Orlando Magic (21-59) at Charlotte Hornets (40-39)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line via WynnBet: Hornets by 13.5
Tickets: $6-$371 on StubHub
2022 Season Series: Hornets 120, Magic 111 in Orlando on Oct. 27; Hornets 106, Magic 99 in Orlando on Nov. 24; Magic 116, Hornets 109 in Charlotte on Jan. 14; Tonight in Charlotte

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OMD Prediction

How the Orlando Magic are treating these final games is getting a lot clearer (not like there is much time). They are still giving their key guys some time. And with Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs having such little time together before this final stretch of games, they need it.

But they are not saving anyone’s minutes for the final moments of the game. They are not interested in getting these guys clutch moments — especially with both Fultz and Suggs on a minute restriction. So a score prediction may not do much.

Real success in this game for the Magic will be winning the first three quarters and winning the minutes when their regular rotation is in the game. That is… what it is.

The Charlotte Hornets are also prepping for the Play-In Tournament. They still have an outside chance of climbing past the Atlanta Hawks to get a home game in the 9/10 game. But they need to win out to do so. Charlotte has every motivation to win this one. Then again, so did the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

123. 170. Prediction. 114. 38

3 Keys To Watch

Fultz and Suggs together

The Orlando Magic are looking for little victories here to end the season. Little things they can build and grow with. So to see Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs in the same lineup certainly feels like an important piece to the puzzle to grab for at the end of the season.

The duo has played a total of 21 minutes together this season. Seventeen of those minutes game in Tuesday’s win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Orlando has broken even in those minutes (including a break-even in Tuesday’s game).

Fultz said after Tuesday’s game that he and Suggs are still getting used to playing with each other. Fultz said a few of Suggs’ turnovers were probably his fault for not anticipating where Suggs wanted him. That chemistry will grow.

And it is really important for the team to bein developing that camaraderie together. The Magic anticipate that this will be their backcourt of the future. So every minute they are on the floor together is probably the biggest thing coming out of these final games.

LaMelo’s next steps

LaMelo Ball has had a fantastic season.

The second-year player is averaging 19.9 points per game, 7.6 assists per game and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting a 51.2-percent effective field goal percentage. He has singlehandedly, it feels, pushed the Hornets’ pace and defined the style this young, offensive-minded team has created.

Ball turned the Hornets into a Play-In Tournament team last year. This year has featured plenty of struggle but Charlotte will find itself back in the Play-In Tournament once again. The Hornets will remain long shots to get into the playoff field.

That will undoubtedly be sitting in the Hornets’ minds as they plan this offseason. It feels like their window is open. And they will be doing everything they can to give Ball the weapons he needs to take this team as far as it can go.

That is probably what is feeding some of the early rumblings that the Charlotte Hornets could be a potential landing spot for Russell Westbrook if the Los Angeles Lakers try to move him. That does not feel like a good thing for Ball and this team. But it is a sign of the aggression everyone expects Charlotte to act with this offseason.

Mo’s last statement

Mo Bamba made quite a statement in Tuesday’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, tallying 21 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks and five 3-pointers. It was a historic performance for him and a sign of everything everyone thinks Bamba can be.

That has proven itself throughout the season. When Bamba plays with energy and confidence, he can be a rim-protecting beast who then runs the floor and hits trailing threes. He is good at sneaking in pops when defenses expect rolls from big men and draining above-the-break threes.

It is quite a strong statement to the league before the end of his contract as he enters restricted free agency this offseason.

Bamba’s biggest issue remains consistency. He is not consistently in the right spots and his energy is not always at its zenith. That has raised all the questions entering these final games of the season.

Next. Ignas Brazdeikis is making his closing statement. dark

Two games will not fix all of that. But he needs a strong close to give everyone some feeling he can get there. The pressure is certainly on for Bamba.