Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings (Jan. 9, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Paolo Banchero has had a strong start to his career and looks like a genuine star for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero has had a strong start to his career and looks like a genuine star for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic continue their road trip as they take on the Sacramento Kings in a game that has some motivation after an early season overtime buzzer-beating loss.

Orlando Magic (15-25) at Sacramento Kings (20-18)

Time/TV: 10 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Kings by 6
Tickets: $19-$2,482 on StubHub
Season Series: Kings 126, Magic 123 in Orlando on Nov. 5; Tonight in Sacramento

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic are riding high and seem to have righted some of their ships after a shaky run following the win streak and through the suspensions. The team’s defense rounded into form and put in a fantastic performance limiting the Golden State Warriors from beyond the arc. The Magic appear to be getting themselves healthy and they look pretty confident.

That is the key to everything for this young team. The Magic are moving well and working for each other on both ends of the floor. This is a team that needs to play aggressively and with its foot forward to get the best of itself.

This Sacramento Kings team will present a very similar challenge. They push the pace and will pounce on mistakes while spreading the floor with shooters. But they are much more effective getting to the foul line and putting pressure on defenses in the paint. That will be the big challenge for the Magic in this one.

Like the first matchup in Orlando in November, this looks like a battle between two teams with very bright futures and styles that everyone believes in.

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3 Keys To Watch

Protecting the ball

The biggest weakness for the Orlando Magic’s offense is not their lack of 3-point shooting (although adding that would help with everything). This team has carved out an identity as a rim-attacking team and a group that will force its way to the foul line. The Magic have a distinct style.

The only thing that derails it is that this team still turns the ball over a lot. Or, at least, they were.

Orlando currently ranks 25th in the league at a 15.6-percent turnover rate. This is a number that is actually improving for the Magic though. In their last 10 games, Orlando is eighth in turnover rate at 12.3 percent. This is an incredible improvement and is a big reason why the Magic are starting to win more and more.

That will be the big challenge going up against an energetic Sacramento Kings team. For the season, the Kings are 18th in the league forcing a 14.2-percent turnover rate. Sacramento is 18th too with 17.1 points off turnovers per game.

The Kings’ defense has struggled of late (more on that in a minute), but the Magic cannot give away free points.

Defense faltering

Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown was visibly frustrated following the Kings’ 136-134 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. He essentially said afterward that his team is not going to get anywhere if they do not defend better. And that is a typical statement everyone has said about the Kings for some time.

Sacramento currently ranks 25th in the league in defensive rating giving up 114.6 points per 100 possessions. In the last 10 games, the Kings are going the opposite direction. They are 29th, giving up 120.1 points per 100 possessions.

Sacramento is 4-6 in that time because this is still a strong offensive team that puts a ton of pressure with how fast they get to the basket and how quickly they move the ball. But the Magic have been playing better offensively lately too — 112.1 points per 100 possessions. And this team is capable of taking advantage of this defense.

Big Game Repeat?

The Orlando Magic have had some teams that players have pet games against — think Wendell Carter’s dominance over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Some matchups just fit a player’s eye. And we are still learning which teams fit Paolo Banchero’s eye.

Banchero had his first career 30-point game in the first matchup with the Sacramento Kings, scoring 33 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. The Sacramento Kings have a great center in Domantas Sabonis but they still lack some size around him. And Banchero took advantage.

So too did Franz Wagner with 31 points in the game. As did Bol Bol (he is OUT for Monday’s game as he goes through health and safety protocols)  with 23 points. Carter had 17 points and nine rebounds.

Markelle Fultz's hidden value. dark. Next

This was a game of big scoring numbers. The biggest was De’Aaron Fox, a constant problem for the Magic, as he scored 37 including the buzzer-beating game-winning three. Fox averages 21.4 points per game in eight matchups against the Magic. The Magic will have to contain him.

But there could be some big numbers coming in this one.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.