Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons (Feb. 23, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Paolo Banchero has had a stellar rookie year. But the Orlando Magic rookie is hitting his first wall of the season. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Paolo Banchero has had a stellar rookie year. But the Orlando Magic rookie is hitting his first wall of the season. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic return from the All-Star Break with a chance to kickstart their Play-In chase as they take on the Detroit Pistons.

Orlando Magic (24-35) vs. Detroit Pistons (15-44)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Magic by 7
Tickets: $20-$3,320 on StubHub
Season Series: Pistons 113, Magic 109 in Detroit on Oct. 19; Pistons 121, Magic 101 in Detroit on Dec. 28; Tonight in Orlando; April 2 in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic have talked a pretty big game the last few weeks. They have made it clear their intention the rest of the season is to make the playoffs. Orlando players openly chat about the Play-In Tournament and making up the ground they have to make up to get there.

There is a lot to gain from the attempt. And that includes a game like this. The Magic have to put their money where their mouth is. They have to actually win these games.

To be sure, losing to one of the league’s worst teams in the Detroit Pistons would be a major trip for the team especially coming out of the All-Star Break. But this is a Pistons team that has tripped up the Magic a ton already — from destroying them on the glass to hitting threes at unreal rates.

Orlando needs to start off this post-All-Star-Break schedule on a strong note. And this is a Pistons team that has given the Magic plenty of trouble already.

64. 118. 38. Prediction. 107

3 Keys To Watch

The Rebounding Issue

For a while now, the Orlando Magic have been concerned with the team’s rebounding. At their worst, the Magic will give up tons of offensive rebounds and struggle to finish possessions, undercutting their strong defensive possessions. It is a big weakness for the team with the team having big men that do not rack up huge rebounding numbers.

Orlando is currently ranked 13th in the league with a 72.3 percent defensive rebound rate. The Magic are 11th in the last 15 games at 72.8 percent defensive rebound rate. This does not seem like a terrible number. But there have been some really poor rebounding games.

Especially against the Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons are 10th in the league for the season with a 28.9 percent offensive rebound rate. They are a team that attacks the offensive glass and Jalen Duren has been especially troublesome for the team (13 total offensive rebounds in two games).

The Magic gave up a 29.3 percent offensive rebound rate in the opening night game against the Pistons and a 29.2 percent offensive rebound rate in the second meeting.

Rebounding will continue to be a big issue for this team.

The 3-point Problem

The Orlando Magic’s 3-point shooting defense is a two-fold issue.

First, the Magic give up 34.6 percent shooting from deep, the fourth-best defensive mark in the league. But the Magic also give up 37.2 attempts per game, the second-most in the league. So on one hand, opponents do not make as high a percentage of threes against them. But on the other, they get a higher volume of attempts.

There is 3-point luck at play against the Magic. And Orlando has to do a better job preventing attempts — that will make that percentage defense feel a lot more significant.

That luck has not been the case against the Detroit Pistons. Despite Detroit’s overall struggles from deep this season — 20th in 3-point field goal percentage (35.4 percent) and 15th in attempts (33.2 per game) — the team has had some killer games in its two wins over Orlando.

Bojan Bogdanovic dropped 6-for-10 shooting on his way to 24 points in the season opener. Alec Burks had 32 points on 6-for-7 shooting from deep in the Pistons’ win in December.

You cannot always plan for a player getting hot. But the Magic lost both shooters with bad defense in their 3-point runs that flipped those games on their heads. The Magic certainly cannot assume they are going to miss shots just because the numbers said they should.

And they have to continue to limit 3-point shots especially considering the Magic’s low volume.

The Starters

The big issue for the Orlando Magic to resolve as they try to make this play-in push is the play from their preferred starting lineup. After such a strong start, this starting group has struggled and ended up putting the Magic in some pretty big holes.

Luckily, Orlando has the highest-scoring bench in the league in recent weeks. That has helped slow the team from fading while the starters struggle.

The Magic’s preferred starting lineup of Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter have an overall net rating of +3.0 points per 100 possessions (116.5/113.5 offensive/defensive rebound split). That is a solid number, especially for a team with the Magic’s overall record.

But in the last 15 games, that group has a -4.7 net rating (113.9/118.6 split). That coincides with a double downturn from Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. it is a minor miracle the team has stayed afloat.

Next. Chuma Okeke will struggle to find minutes in crowded frontcourt. dark

The Magic need their starters to play at a higher level to give themselves a real chance to win and make this play-in push. That needs to start in this game.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.