Orlando Magic vs. Miami Heat (March 11, 2023): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Jalen Suggs has made his biggest push defensively to carve a role with the Orlando Magic. But his shot is coming around on low volume too. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs has made his biggest push defensively to carve a role with the Orlando Magic. But his shot is coming around on low volume too. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic conclude their four-game homestand against the Miami Heat. The Magic are looking for their first win before heading out on the road.

Orlando Magic (27-40) vs. Miami Heat (36-32)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Heat by 2.5
Tickets: $60-$4,933 on StubHub
Season Series: Heat 110, Magic 105 in Miami on Jan. 27; Heat 107, Magic 103 in Orlando on Feb. 11; Tonight in Orlando; April 9 in Miami

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic’s homestand has not gone according to anyone’s plan. That is for sure.

The Magic probably looked at these four games — against some difficult but manageable opponents — as their chance to make up ground. And while they have not fallen completely off the pace, a winless homestand so far has made the postseason dreams feel far more remote. Especially with a four-game West Coast trip on the horizon.

The Magic have to do a better job defensively first and foremost to get themselves back on track. And their focus has to be on themselves more than their opponents. Because they are good enough when they play well — especially on defense — to beat just about anybody. Even with a few missteps.

Orlando will get some big help Saturday night. Wendell Carter has been removed from the Magic’s injury report, suggesting he will be available to play after a three-game absence with hip pain. That will be a huge boost to the defense.

The Miami Heat are coming off an 8 p.m. tip-off in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. They are also expected to get Kyle Lowry back.

106. 110. 111. 38. Prediction

3 Keys To Watch

Wendell Carter’s defense

The Orlando Magic certainly felt Wendell Carter’s absence. It weighed on the team and killed off their strong defensive presence. In the last three games, the Magic have a defensive rating of 124.8 points per 100 possessions. That is the third-worst mark in the league over the last three games.

It is not good. And Carter is a big boost to the defense.

The Magic have a 111.5 defensive rating with Carter on the floor this year. Only Franz Wagner has a better on-court defensive rating among regular rotation players (Jonathan Isaac and Goga Bitadze rate higher, but have played limited games).

Carter makes that much of a difference. And having him back in should settle the defense down. If Orlando can maintain the offense it has displayed in the last three games, then the team should get back to winning a whole lot more.

Jimmy Butler in the clutch

The Miami Heat do not have a great statistical profile. Their 3-point shot has completely betrayed them this year and they actually have a worse overall offense than the Orlando Magic this year.

So why are the Heat fighting to get into the Playoffs proper and avoid the Play-In rather than scrounging at the bottom of the standings like the Magic?

An All-Star in Bam Adebayo helps. Jimmy Butler really helps — especially with the year he is having with 22.3 points per game and a 54.6-percent effective field goal percentage. But the real reason is their ability to win close games. And Butler just takes over late in games.

The Heat are 27-21 in close games, leading the league in clutch games and clutch wins this season. The Magic are 14-21 in clutch situations. That is the big difference between these teams. Miami is trying to get the game close late because they have every confidence they can win it.

Butler is a big part of this. He averages 3.9 points per game in clutch situations — when the game is within five points in the final five minutes. He averages 32.2 points per 36 possessions in clutch situations. He is just a dynamic scorer who can get to his spots and steps up in the biggest moments.

If a team can avoid facing him in these moments, the better.

Offensive revival

So what about that offensive revival? What about the Orlando Magic’s sudden scoring surge?

The Magic despite their defensive issues have been scoring a ton in March. In five games this month, the Magic are scoring 116.7 points per 100 possessions. That puts them 12th in the league for the month. It is obviously an extremely small sample size. But it is a good hope for the team rounding into form.

There are just a lot of players scoring a ton right now for the Magic. Paolo Banchero has jumped out of his February slump with 18.4 points per game on 44.6/38.1/62.9 shooting splits in the last five games. Franz Wagner is up to 19.2 points per game in March. Markelle Fultz is posting 17.2 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. Cole Anthony is at 15.6 points per game and Wendell Carter scored 15.5 points per game in the pair of games he played.

Next. Orlando Magic test their version of smaller lineups. dark

If the Magic were defending at their customary level, their offense would be far more than enough to win games. And that is the frustrating part of the way the team is playing right now.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.