Orlando Magic vs. Memphis Grizzlies (Jan. 5, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Paolo Banchero is set to make his regular season debut as the Orlando Magic eagerly wait to see their top overall pick. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero is set to make his regular season debut as the Orlando Magic eagerly wait to see their top overall pick. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic go for a second straight home win as they take on the Memphis Grizzlies with both teams coming off a back-to-back and solid performances last night.

Orlando Magic (14-24) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (24-13)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Grizzlies by 6.5
Tickets: $106-$2,765 on StubHub
Season Series: Tonight in Orlando; March 28 in Memphis

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic wanted to use their extra practice time this week to get themselves right and work on their foundations. They called it a “reset” for the team. That proved to be time well spent as the Magic played much more effectively on both ends to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. That looked like the team the Magic want to be.

Oklahoma City has a slightly better record than Orlando but could be fairly considered a peer for the Magic in the standings. Not to mention the vast rest advantage the Magic had against the Thunder last night.

The Memphis Grizzlies are decidedly a step up from them. This is a team that knows its identity and plays it extremely well. Memphis is going to challenge Orlando in many of the places the team is weakest — Orlando’s ability to defend without fouling, protect the basketball and limit turnovers and transition opportunities, and win the battle on the glass.

And that is not even getting into Ja Morant who remains a dynamo and one of the toughest covers in the league.

211. 108. 38. Prediction. 115

3 Keys To Watch

Turnovers and more

The Orlando Magic feel like they can hang their hat on the defensive end. When they play their best, it is usually their defense leading the way and helping establish the base for the team to get up to speed and get downhill offensively. Their defense feeds their offense.

That is how they built a 22-point lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder. But what they did to hurt their own defense is how the lead dropped down to seven. The Magic had 17 turnovers that led to the Thunder scoring 20 points off turnovers.

This is still one of the team’s biggest weaknesses, ranking 28th still in turnover rate (15.8 percent) and 24th in opponent points off turnovers (18.7 per game) — although they are 12th in turnover rate in the last 10 games at 13.3 pecent and eighth in opponent points off turnovers at 14.7 per game.

The Memphis Grizzlies usually pounce on these turnovers. They did in two blowout wins last season. But the Grizzlies are not as strong there as they were last year. They force an 18.3 percent turnover rate (18th in the league) and score 17.4 points per game off turnovers (18th in the league).

Orlando is not in a position where the team can beat itself against a quality team like Memphis. Everyone should know the Grizzlies are hunting for these easy opportunities.

Defending without fouling

The other big problem with the Orlando Magic’s defense is their ability to defend without fouling. Orlando has played some strong defense, but it can often get derailed with bad fouls and a parade to the foul line. That is what helped keep the Oklahoma City Thunder in the game Wednesday.

For the season, Orlando is 19th in the league committing 20.9 fouls per game. The team though is only 13th in opponent free throw attempts per game at 23.6 per game and 13th in opponent at free throw rate (27.0 percent). But in the last 10 games, the Magic are 17th in opponent free throw rate at 28.6 percent.

The Memphis Grizzlies are a team that lives in the paint. They are not a strong 3-point shooting team and lean on offensive rebounding and putting pressure on the rim to create offense. They are 14th in the league in free throw rate but plenty capable of getting ot the foul line.

The Magic have to do well defending without fouling to be in a good spot to win.

Paolo and Franz

The Orlando Magic are slowly becoming healthier with Jalen Suggs making his return to the lineup. But the thing they are most likely excited to see is extended time with Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner on the floor together again after Wagner comes off his one-game suspension from Wednesday.

Banchero and Wagner have played a total of 741 minutes together with a net rating of -2.2 points per 100 possessions (109.5 offensive rating/111.6 defensive rating). That has included a lot of the poor lineups from earlier as the season when they had to man the point guard duties.

In the last 10 games, this potential star duo has played 201 minutes at a -0.3 net rating (111.1/111.4). That is certainly a good sign that the duo is figuring things out.

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And with the addition of Wendell Carter back into the lineup and a spacer with Gary Harris in the starting lineup, it feels like this star duo could be due to have a big showing and give the Magic a clearer glimpse of their future.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.