Orlando Magic at Utah Jazz (Jan. 13, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic are set to make a tough call on fan-favorite guard Terrence Ross. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are set to make a tough call on fan-favorite guard Terrence Ross. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic take on one of the more interesting young teams in the league in the Utah Jazz as their West Coast trip continues.

Orlando Magic (16-26) at Utah Jazz (21-23)

Time/TV: 9 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Jazz by 6
Tickets: $19-$960 on StubHub
Season Series: Tonight in Salt Lake City; March 9 in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic are a tough team to figure out. Most young teams are.

On one night, they will look fluid and together defensively and moving the ball offensively. The next night, they cannot stop anybody and seem stuck in the mud. Really this is a process that goes quarter by quarter as much as it goes game by game.

The Utah Jazz are in the same boat. They are also a young team that is getting a grip on who they are and what they can do. They are also prone to wild swings, able to score seemingly at will in one moment and struggling to outscore opponents the next.

With both teams off since Tuesday, that makes for an interesting matchup between two interesting young teams at Vivint Arena on Friday. And it is hard to say which one of these two teams will show up. And whether the Magic are a team that could give the Jazz problems at a home site they have dominated in with a 13-7 home record.

38. 110. 118. Prediction. 115

3 Keys To Watch

3-point yo-yo

The Orlando Magic ran the gamut in 3-point defense in the last two outings.

Against the Sacramento Kings, they gave up a Kings franchise record 23 3-pointers and lost 126-111 and never really seemed in the game. They were scrambling to chase the 3-point line and scrambling to stay in the game. Their defensive intensity was nowhere near where the team needed it.

Then against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Orlando Magic were scrambling like crazy to get stops at the 3-point line and held the Blazers to 6 for 35 shooting including three misses to tie the game on the final possession. There is a fair amount of 3-point luck involved in that game as much as anywhere. But they got the stops in the end.

Three-point shooting will again be a key factor in this game. The Utah Jazz are 14th in the league in 3-point percentage (36.2 percent) and fourth in makes per game (14.4 per game). Of course, the Magic have five wins against the three teams ranked ahead of them in 3-point makes per game.

Orlando can be a very good 3-point defense team. And that is something the team has to cut off in addition to its focus on the paint to win this one.

Home and road

A characteristic of young teams is always their ability to play like juggernauts at home and struggle on the road. That describes the Orlando Magic well (10-12 at Amway Center, 6-14 on the road). That also describes the Utah Jazz (13-7 at home, 8-16 on the road).

The stats show this too.

The Jazz have the fourth-best home offense in the league at 118.2 points per 100 possessions. Their defense is pretty solid for them too at 113.3 points allowed per 100 possessions (24th among teams at home this year). They can outscore opponents much more effectively at Vivint Arena.

Compare that to the road where the Jazz have splits of 114.2/116.6. The Jazz can score regardless of where they play. Their defense does not travel.

Orlando, on the other hand, struggles offensively on the road more than anything else. The Magic score just 107.5 points per 100 possessions on the road. That is the part that needs to change against a poor defense — a poor defense like the Sacramento Kings’ defense is poor — to give them a chance to win.

Wendell Carter everywhere

Among the statistical trends to watch for this Orlando Magic team is the clear importance of Wendell Carter. It is abundantly clear how much better the team is with him and his understanding both of how to connect the team offensively and be a backstop defensively.

Carter is averaging 14.8 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game since he returned from his plantar fascia injury. He is shooting 56.3 percent from the floor in that time.

More importantly, the Magic have a +1.8 net rating with Carter on the floor since he returned from that injury (the team’s overall net rating is -4.4 points per 100 possessions. The Magic are essentially treading water overall in this time.

The Magic have a 114.2 defensive rating with Carter on the floor. Jalen Suggs is the only regular rotation player who ranks ahead of him in that category since Carter returned (other players are Kevon Harris, Admiral Schofield, Caleb Houstan and R.J. Hampton). The team has a -10.9 net rating with Wendell Carter off the floor (only Franz Wagner has a higher mark).

Next. Orlando Magic are showing poise in the fourth quarter. dark

This should all point to how critical Carter is to connecting the team on both ends and how effective he can be. And with the Jazz able to spread the floor, he is going to need to find himself in the paint to protect the lane more and the team is going to have to fill in there too.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.