The Orlando Magic return to the Amway Center for their first home game of the preseason. They get a second shot at the New Orleans Pelicans as they look to build on two strong road games.
Orlando Magic (2-0) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (0-3)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
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Line: Magic by 1.5/Magic -122 Money LiMne/Over-Under: 224.5 on FanDuel
Tickets: $7-$205 on StubHub
2023 Season Series: Magic 123, Pelicans 110 in Orlando on Jan. 20; Magic 101, Pelicans 93 in New Orleans on Feb. 27
2024 Season Series: March 21 in Orlando; April 3 in New Orleans
The Orlando Magic have been flying high in the preseason. A pair of wins alongside some encouraging play from all corners of the roster have the Magic feeling very good about their prospects for the season. The New Orleans Pelicans had a strong start in that preseason opener last week in New Orleans, but have struggled since. It is not merely the three losses heading into the final preseason game either.
Who knows how important that might ultimately be for how these two teams play against each other? Nobody wants a winless preseason, that is often a sign of some bigger troubles ahead. Or maybe it is not.
The Magic’s focus is still likely on themselves. Coach Jamahl Mosley said the team will probably push minutes up for players in this game — the Magic’s final game against an NBA opponent. The team is aiming to keep cleaning things up and having a second crack at an opponent is certainly a boost.
3 Keys To Watch
Clean up the margins
The biggest focus for the Orlando Magic is still on themselves. And they all want to see the team clean up the margins. That means fouling less, continuing to turn the ball over less and locking down the offensive glass. All were issues in the first game against the New Orleans Pelicans last week — but also a bit more expected for the first preseason game.
Orlando had a 15.1 percent turnover rate last season, ranking them 27th in the league. Turnovers were a huge issue for the Magic last year and one of the most obvious ways the team can play “better basketball” this year.
Those turnovers were a big part of the reason why the Pelicans were able to build a 16-point lead in the second quarter last week. The Pelicans are trying to push the pace at every opportunity and feeding them turnovers is a sure way to give them some extra juice.
However, in the preseason, the Magic have largely cleaned up the turnovers. They have only a 13.1 percent turnover rate, the third-best in the league during the preseason. In the first half, they have a 12.0 percent turnover rate, fourth-best in the league.
Orlando still wants to clean up and refine how they protect possessions. But these are positive signs.
Battle from the Arc
The New Orleans Pelicans are a team that is looking to fly — pun intended — in transition and spread the floor with shooters. That is one of the reasons they took Jordan Hawkins. And with Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum’s pull-up abilities, they are capable of hitting from deep everywhere.
New Orleans’ offense has largely struggled during the preseason so far — the team’s offensive rating for the preseason is in the mid-90s (yuck). And the team has struggled from deep, making only 32.7 percent of its 3-pointers. The Pelicans are running, but they are struggling to find purpose.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic’s 3-point shooting is noticeably up in a major way. The Magic are taking 40.0 3-point attempts per game and shooting 33.8 percent from deep. The percentage should certainly increase, but the attempts is a noticeable change after the team was 27th in the league in attempts last year.
In the first half — when the Magic have played most of their starters — the Magic are shooting 40.6 percent on 16.0 3-point attempts per game. The attempts are at about the same rate they were last season. But the increase in makes has made up for still being stingy from deep.
When it comes to preseason games, you never know who is playing or how long they are going to play. This is the New Orleans Pelicans’ last preseason game and this is the Orlando Magic’s last preseason game against an NBA opponent. There is still some work to do but teams will still be a bit more cautious.
Jamahl Mosley said at the Magic’s shootaround that the starters may see their minutes increase some. So the Magic intend to use the game as something of a dress rehearsal. Increasing those minutes might also enable the Magic to experiment some with lineups.
The Pelicans also appear set to play their starters too, although coach Willie Green did not say he would push them too hard. In last Tuesday’s game, the starters played in only the first half for New Orleans.
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