Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks (Feb. 7, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Paolo Banchero's stellar start to the season has not translated into wins for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero's stellar start to the season has not translated into wins for the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic return home for a big three-game homestand before the All-Star Break as they take on the New York Knicks as the trade deadline looms in the background.

Orlando Magic (22-32) vs. New York Knicks (29-26)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Knicks by 1.5
Tickets: $33-$2,127 on StubHub
Season Series: Knicks 115, Magic 102 in New York City on Oct. 24; Today in Orlando; March 23 in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
New York97.7115.0113.552.532.413.128.7

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic are a team that is riding high. A 3-1 road trip has the team feeling and playing pretty well. They have a clear identity, they put pressure on defense and they swarm teams on the other end. This is a team coming into its own and beginning to carve out an identity.

This is everything the team wanted to see. And the Magic tying their win total from last season at this point already is a clear sign of the team’s progress.

But nobody is satisfied. Nor should they be. They are suddenly right in the thick of the postseason chase, with ground to make up, and they are a confident bunch who feels they can take that next step fairly quickly.

To do that will take winning games like this one against the New York Knicks. The Knicks are a big team that attacks the glass and scrambles well on defense — as all Tom Thibodeau teams do. That will challenge the Magic. They are inconsistent on the glass and they will need strong defense to handle Jalen Brunson and his hot shooting.

110. 27. 107. 38. Prediction

3 Keys To Watch

Suggs is everywhere

Jalen Suggs missed Sunday’s game serving his one-game suspension for his involvement in Friday’s fight. He was certainly missed to some extent as the Orlando Magic struggled to stop the Charlotte Hornets from shooting well throughout the game.

To be sure, Suggs is making a real defensive impact.

He is averaging 2.6 deflections per game this year according to NBA.com’s hustle stats. That trails only Markelle Fultz at 2.8 deflections per game. Since Jan. 5 when Suggs returned from his ankle soreness, he is averaging 2.4 deflections per game. On top of this too, the Magic have a 106.5 defensive rating with Suggs on the floor, the top mark for regular rotation players.

Suggs is everywhere right now defensively and he has flipped games on their heads to help boost the Magic’s bench group.

Brunson is too

Just as Jalen Suggs has been making a huge impact on the defensive end, Jalen Brunson is making a big impact for the New York Knicks on offense.

While Brunson fell short of an All-Star selection, he has played like he is worthy of a spot in Salt Lake City next week, averaging 23.1 points per game and 6.2 assists per game. He is averaging 30.8 points per game in his last five games, shooting 50.9 percent from the floor to boot.

This is a really incredible run for Brunson. And he has carried the Knicks back into games singlehandedly.

Orlando has strong defenders, but the team has struggled with its switching scheme against guards. Especially ones who do such a good job controlling the game’s pace. They will need to be on the lookout for Brunson and cutting him off will be the big key in this one.

Screens for Wendell

A lot of Wendell Carter does seems to go unseen. He will be in the spotlight for this one as he deals with likely defending Julius Randle for a spell and with controlling the glass against one of the best defensive teams — and offensive rebounding teams — in the league.

The big area where Carter makes an impact though is with his screening. And this is something that is so hard to measure. But Carter is ninth in the league with 4.4 screen assists per game. That does not likely count all the times he springs a player free for them to make the next pass to get the offense going.

Next. 2023 Trade Value Column: A future to plan for. dark

Carter has certainly been slowed with the plantar fascia injury. It is easy to see that he is a step slow at times as he manages that pain. But his importance is still clear with his ability to make the offense create space and his ability to be a threat at all three levels.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.