Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets (Feb. 5, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic close their road trip against the Charlotte Hornets as they aim for a 3-1 trip away from home and some serious momentum heading to the All-Star Break.

Orlando Magic (21-32) at Charlotte Hornets (15-39)

Time/TV: 1 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Hornets by 1.5
Tickets: $16-$1,242 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 113, Hornets 93 in Orlando on Oct. 28; Hornets 112, Magic 105 in Orlando on Nov. 14; Today in Charlotte; March 3 in Charlotte

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic have to be feeling pretty good about themselves and their ability to keep their composure after Friday’s fight. Yes, the consequences of that game will be felt as the Magic take the floor Sunday afternoon in Charlotte — Mo Bamba was suspended for four games (taking him past the trade deadline) and Jalen Suggs was suspended for Sunday’s game.

The Magic will have to make up for those absences. Especially for Suggs’ absence as he has been one of the biggest catalysts for the team’s defensive surge. That is the big reason the Magic have found success on this road trip. Orlando has to be strong defensively.

That is something the Orlando Magic will have to focus on against this Charlotte Hornets team. The Hornets are a team that is struggling and still at the bottom of the standings. But they can be dangerous with both LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier capable of scoring from the guard spots. The Magic will have to be solid and control the pace to win.

114. 38. 108. 170. Prediction

3 Keys To Watch

Controlling turnovers

The Charlotte Hornets are the kind of young team that just wants to run up possessions to try to make up for their mistakes. That also fits with LaMelo Ball’s personality and play style. Even if that is not quite what we are used to with Steve Clifford.

Whenever you play a fast-paced team, you have to find ways to limit possessions and keep control over the pace of the game. That has not always been the Orlando Magic’s best trait. They struggle with turnovers. The team still ranks 27th in turnover rate at 15.3 percent. The Magic struggle most when they turn it over a ton.

But that is something the team is starting to get under some control. Orlando has been better than its turnover rate average in seven of the last 10 games. The Magic are 5-5 in those games. That still leaves plenty of room for improvement and turnovers are not dispositive for the team. But turnovers are a big thing to watch for the Magic.

They are a much better team when controlling the pace and that is a big focus against a fast-paced, fast-breaking team like the Hornets.

Cole Emerges

The Orlando Magic starters have yo-yoed between nearly unbeatable to pretty pedestrian. The starting group still has an overall positive net rating so do not expect a change to the starting lineup quite yet.

But the Magic have had some rough starts lately. Hopefully getting Wendell Carter back (he is not listed on the Magic’s injury report after missing Friday’s game) will give the team better stability at center for the game (not that Mo Bamba did a poor job Friday night).

The bench though has been the team’s saving grace. And a lot of that falls on Cole Anthony. He has had his ups and downs this season, but Anthony is on a tear and seemingly embracing the role as the team’s sixth man.

Anthony is averaging 15.2 points per game and shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and 52.6 percent from beyond the arc in his last five games. The Magic have done a good job in these instances keeping him off the ball and putting him in positions where he can attack. Anthony has done well not to settle for his jumper and being more effective finishing around the hoop too.

Anthony is playing with much more composure and force. That has been a huge boost to a Magic team constantly in need of some energy as they break the lineup.

Paolo’s struggles

No matter what his teammates say, Paolo Banchero is still a rookie and often looks like it. A very good rookie, but still a rookie.

Banchero is going through another valley in his play and the hope has to be that Friday’s 3-for-16, 11-point performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves was an aberration.

Increasingly though it is not. Banchero has shot worse than 30 percent in four of his last five games. He is struggling some to get the foul calls he was getting earlier in the season and he is struggling to finish around the basket some.

These struggles are also a product of teams throwing more double teams his way. Banchero is able to diagnose these double teams but they are still tough for a rookie. Teams are starting to throw more disguised coverages at him. Banchero just has to learn and experience these struggles.

Next. Markelle Fultz now more valuable than Ben Simmons. dark

But Orlando to win still needs Banchero to play at a high level. And that is what has been missing in games lately. But he is a rookie, he will get right eventually.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.