Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks (March 7, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Franz Wagner was one of the brightest spots for the Orlando Magic this season. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Franz Wagner was one of the brightest spots for the Orlando Magic this season. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic’s homestand continues as they look to bounce back and keep their win-loss streak going against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Orlando Magic (27-38) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (46-18)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Bucks by 7
Tickets: $35-$3,463 on StubHub
Season Series: Bucks 109, Magic 102 in Orlando on Dec. 5; Bucks 139, Magic 117 in Milwaukee on March 1; Tonight in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

For the last 12 games, the Orlando Magic have exchanged a win and a loss. It has been more than a month now since the Magic had a winning or losing streak of any kind. That is called treading water. That is a sign of some progress for a young team still learning how to win. But it is not helping the Magic make up any ground.

That streak could be in jeopardy with the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks coming to town. especially after the Bucks dropped 26 3-pointers in a win over the Magic just last week.

But, alas, there is some potential relief. After previously being listed as PROBABLE, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game with a non-COVID illness. Jrue Holiday is also OUT with neck soreness.

That is two key players out for the Bucks. And remember Khris Middleton is still working his way back from an injury and coming off the bench.

89. 112. 38. Prediction. 108

3 Keys To Watch

Life without Giannis

The Milwaukee Bucks are always a dangerous team as long as they have Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have not been the strongest team offensively this year but Antetokounmpo always creates space with his drives to the basket. That is how the Milwaukee Bucks eviscerated the Orlando Magic from deep in last week’s matchup.

But taking Antetokounmpo out reveals a team that still has weapons, but much fewer of those driving options. They wilfind it tough to get those same 3-point looks they got last week. And the Bucks struggle a ton without Antetoknoumpo.

With Antetokunmpo off the floor this year, the Bucks post a net rating of -0.7 points pe r100 possessions with a 108.1 offensive rating. The defense can still be storng without Antetokounmpo but they really struggle to score.

Things are worse without Jrue Holiday. The Bucks have a -3.0 net rating when Holiday is off the floor with a 105.9 offensive rating. The Bucks could struggle to score in this one even with Wendell Carter QUESTIONABLE once again to play and protect the paint.

Moe in the paint

The Wendell Carter injury remains a big one for the Orlando Magic. And the Magic are hopeful that he will be able to play and move past the hip soreness that kept him out Sunday and leaves him QUESTIONABLE for this game.

The problme is really more about Moe Wagner’s struggles defending the paint.

Opponents shoot 77.2 percent at the rim when Wagner is the closest defender, according to data from Second Spectrum. That is the fourth-worst mark among centers in the league. The three players worse than him average fewer than 10 minutes per game.

Wagner is adept at taking charges and that is typically his strategy to defend the paint. But once the ball gets in to him, he is going to struggle to stop it. And that was a huge problem in Sunday’s loss and has generally been an issue with Wagner’s defense throughout the season.

3-point shooting

Of course, we have to talk about three-point shooting. Especially after the Milwaukee Bucks dropped 26 in their win over the Orlando Magic last week. This is the big problem for Orlando’s offense and quite simply the team’s next evolution is to increase its volume and take more threes.

In the long run, this is how the Magic are going to iprove their offense and take the important next step  in its evolution.

The Magic and Bucks could not be in more contrast in their philosophies on this.

Orlando is 27th in the league in attempts per game at 30.6 attempts per game. They are 23rd in percentage at 34.6 percent. Milwaukee is fourth in the league with 40.1 attempts per game and 11th in percentage at 36.5 percent shooting.

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The Bucks are probably not going to get the same quality of looks without both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday out. But it is safe to assume the Bucks will continue to hoist threes. And that may be enough to keep them in the game if the Magic cannot keep up with their makes.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.