Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers (Jan. 25, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Franz Wagner was asked to do a lot for the Orlando Magic this season. He has seemingly accomplished and thrived through it all. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Franz Wagner was asked to do a lot for the Orlando Magic this season. He has seemingly accomplished and thrived through it all. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic look to build off a big win Monday night by taking on the struggling Indiana Pacers on a long back-to-back. This is a big test for the Magic.

Orlando Magic (18-29) vs. Indiana Pacers (24-25)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Magic by 5.5
Tickets: $16-$1,757 on StubHub
Season Series: Pacers 114, Magic 113 in Indianapolis on Nov. 19; Pacers 123, Magic 102 in Indianapolis on Nov. 21; Tonight in Orlando; Feb. 25 in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

Orlando Magic fans are keenly focused on this game because there is frustration brewing with this young team. Of course, that is because the team has reached a new level it seems and fans are eager to see the team raise the standard and compete in the postseason chase.

The Orlando Magic beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, one of the best teams in the Western Conference (albeit a very injured one right now). But then the team proceeded to get blown out in a difficult back-to-back against the Washington Wizards. Only then to bounce back and defeat the Boston Celtics and snap their nine-game win streak.

The whiplash is the thing.

Fighting for consistency is one of the big challenges for this young team for the rest of this season. And that is what is the big challenge in this one.

The Indiana Pacers snapped a seven-game losing streak Tuesday night with a 16-point comeback in the second half over the Chicago Bulls. But that means this is a struggling team on a back-to-back with travel. These are the kinds of games the Magic need to win and control to take their next steps.

Prediction. 110. 100. 120. 38

3 Keys To Watch

Battle for the paint

The focus for the Orlando Magic is always on the paint. They are a team that focuses on attacking the rim and getting to the foul line. That is what carries their offense in many ways. And so one stat that always matters for the Magic is whether they are able to win in the paint. That is where we should start with the focus of this game.

Orlando ranks 17th in points in the paint with 48.5 points per game. That has actually fallen. In January, the Magic are 22nd with 48.2 points per game. Orlando has to continue to get into the paint more.

And that will be a big challenge with Myles Turner patrolling the paint. Turner is one of the best paint defenders in the league, giving up 55.1 percent shooting at the rim according to Second Spectrum. He is one of the best interior defenders in the league.

And Indiana loves to get out in transition and push the pace. So Orlando will have to be sharper defensively in the paint too. The Magic are ninth in the league giving up 48.3 points in the paint per game. They are sixth in the league in January giving up 46.8 points in the paint per game.

Life without Tyrese

Life is always hard without your star player. Tyrese Haliburton has been out now for seven games with a knee and elbow sprain. It is not clear when he is set to return. But his absence has certainly been felt.

It is not merely the 1-6 record the team has suffered from his absence. In the last seven games, the Pacers are 29th in the league in offensive rating at 107.4 points per 100 possessions (down from 112.4). Their defense is down to 20th at 118.5 points per 100 possessions (down from 114.2 for the whole season).

Indiana is still playing at an incredible pace, increasing their pace to 103.6 possessions per 48 minutes. But how much of that is the team missing more shots and giving up more transition opportunities?

The Pacers have lost some of their center without Haliburton in the lineup. Haliburton should still be an All-Star in a few weeks in Salt Lake City. But his absence has derailed a really promising season from Indiana.

Rookie vs. Rookie

In NBA.com’s latest rookie ladder, Paolo Banchero is still No. 1. Nobody is going to challenge Banchero and he has the Rookie of the Year award all but wrapped up.

He is having an absolutely incredible year that is not getting talked about enough for its historical implications. Nor is his growth and understanding of how to play — and play through struggles, honestly — being talked about enough.

The battle for No. 2 has been far more interesting with plenty of rookies having their normal ups and downs this season. But Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin has likely settled in nicely at No. 2 as he continues to fend off challengers.

Mathurin is averaging 17.5 points per game on a 48.2-percent effective field goal percentage largely off the bench. He has been a strong scorer, able to fly to the rim and set up his own shot off the dribble. Mathurin has been impressive.

Next. Jonathan Isaac already making a winning impact. dark

And he was even more impressive in helping the Pacers snap their seven-game losing streak last night. He scored 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting to help the Pacers erase a 16-point halftime deficit and score the win. Mathurin has had his share of big games and is averaging 19.3 points per game since Haliburton went out.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.