Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors (Jan. 7, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Jordan Poole could be come a tax casualty for the Golden State Warriors and could be a gettable free agent for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Poole could be come a tax casualty for the Golden State Warriors and could be a gettable free agent for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic head west for their first big road trip as they take on the Golden State Warriors without Stephen Curry but with several key players returning.

Orlando Magic (14-25) at Golden State Warriors (20-19)

Time/TV: 8:30 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Warriors by 6.5
Tickets: $72-$5,442 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 130, Warriors 129 in Orlando on Nov. 3; Tonight in San Francisco

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
Golden State103.0112.8113.356.426.516.122.1

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic will face a big challenge in the next two weeks. The five-game West Coast road trip that begins Saturday in San Francisco will be a big test for a young team trying to stay in the postseason chase and for a team that has struggled to win on the road. There are no easy games on the road during a long road trip.

The Golden State Warriors, even without Stephen Curry, are not likely to give much relief. The Warriors have gone 6-4 since Curry’s injury and were on a five-game win streak until Saddiq Bey’s turnaround 3-pointer gave the Detroit Pistons a shocking home win. Golden State is still a tough out with Jordan Poole looking better in a more featured role and Klay Thompson looking healthier and healthier.

The Magic’s size gave the Warriors a lot of problems in their first game in Orlando back in November. Orlando could still be a team that makes it hard for Golden State to operate if the team remains dialed in. This should be seen as an opportunity to start the road trip right.

41. Prediction. 106. 38. 109

3 Keys To Watch

Defending the three

A lot of the Orlando Magic’s focus on defense is placed on defending the paint. And that is a good place to start for this team with its size and length. The Magic are one of the best teams at defending the paint in their wins and about in the middle of the pack in their losses.

The question then is how does the team do defending the three? There are bits of shooting luck involved in this calculation. But going up against the Golden State Warriors always brings some concern about shooting and their potency from outside — even without Stephen Curry.

For the season, opponents shoot 34.2 percent from beyond the arc against the Magic, the fifth-best mark in the league. The Magic generally do a good job defending the 3-point line. But they, of course, have had their struggles preventing quality shots at times.

This is the push and pull of this team so far. The Magic have had plenty of moments where they look absolutely brilliant and then plenty of moments where they are scrambling and giving up tons of 3-pointers. The question is which game is this?

Home and road

Both the Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors have a problem: They cannot win on the road.

The Magic are a mere 4-13 on the road this season (and 10-12 at home). It has been a struggle to win away from the Amway Center. Orlando is 26th in the league with a -6.9 net rating on the road this season (106.6 offensive rating/113.5 defensive rating).

Clearly, Orlando has had some issues finding offensive rhythm away from home. That is something the Magic will need to find in the next five games.

The Warriors have been much worse on the road at 3-16. Of course, that means the Warriors are dominating the Chase Center at 17-3. Golden State has the fifth-best home net rating (+8.0 points per 100 possessions with a 115.1/107.0 split) this season.

The Warriors are quite comfortable playing at home and have dominated opponents there.

It is a big thing to overcome.

Moe or Mo?

The Orlando Magic will have to make some rotation decisions soon. The team is still (very easily) working Jalen Suggs back into the lineup after he made a cameo in Thursday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Now comes the really big decision on what the Magic do.

Moe Wagner will come off his suspension in Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. He was a solid figure for the team starting at center during the team’s win streak. But he also feels like a more realized player whereas the team still has some hopes of developing Mo Bamba.

The results are not exactly clear who should play if the team can only play one. With Moe Wagner on the court, the Magic have a -5.7 net rating (106.7/112.4) compared to the +1.5 net rating with Mo Bamba on the floor (113.8/112.3).

That is for the season though.

In the past month (since Dec. 1), the Magic have a -5.1 net rating with Wagner on the floor (107.3/112.4) compared to Bamba at +11.0 (119.2/108.2). Bamba is coming off an awful defensive game against the Memphis Grizzlies. And the eye test would suggest Wagner is the better defender overall.

Next. Cole Anthony has a lot more to prove to stay in the plan. dark

It is hard to square what the numbers say. And the Magic are going to have to make a tough decision and get a good feel for who works best for those second units.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.