The Orlando Magic play their first home game in the In-Season Tournament as they battle the Toronto Raptors with a chance to set themselves up for a big game Friday in the finale.
In-Season Tournament East Group C
Orlando Magic (8-5, 1-1 -14) vs. Toronto Raptors (6-7, 0-1 -3)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
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Line: Magic by 1.5/Magic Money Line: -120/Over-Under: 216.5 on FanDuel
Tickets: $15-$243 on StubHub
Season Series: Tonight in Orlando; March 15 in Toronto; March 17 in Orlando
Our Prediction Record: 7-6/8-5 ATS
There is a lot on the line for the Orlando Magic as they take on the Toronto Raptors in the In-Season Tournament. They have ground to make up with the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets sitting on two wins (the Nets lost to the Celtics already). Orlando has to win out in order to assure the team can advance — and throw the group into chaos.
More than that, Orlando has to make up a lot of ground thanks to that 20-point loss to Brooklyn last week. So the Orlando Magic not only have to win, but they need some pretty sizable wins to get back into the mix — the Miami Heat are the current Wild Card leader at 2-0 with a +13 and games against the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks remaining (the Philadelphia 76ers are 2-1 with a +12 and only the Cleveland Cavaliers left).
The Magic can put themselves in the race with a win. The Raptors are still working to get into it. But after losing to the Celtics, they need to pick up wins now. And they have very little margin for error. Whether that ratchets up the intensity, who is to say?
What we do have is a game between two teams that are very talented defensively but struggle a lot offensively. The game is likely going to come down to unforced mistakes and turnovers. The Magic are very good at forcing turnovers and the Raptors have the length to match to match and take advantage of miscues too.
3 Keys To Watch
The turnover/fast-break battle
The story with the Toronto Raptors has always been about their ability to force turnovers and punish teams in transition. That is what Nick Nurse preached to his team and with all of their length and size, they were able to cause a lot of havoc.
That is an area the Raptors have fallen off this year. But they are still a danger in transition.
Toronto is forcing a 14.8 percent turnover rate, placing the team squarely in the middle of the league. The Raptors score 15.8 points off turnovers per game (20th in the league). But the Raptors score 18.8 fast-break points per game, second in the league.
Orlando has been good at limiting transition opportunities this year, giving up 14.2 per game. That is a number that has slipped and the team now ranks 17th in the league. Their 16.3 percent turnover rate (27th in the league) has not helped matters.
While this may not be the Raptors of old, they are still a team that can get down the court quickly and like the Magic have forwards who can lead the break.
Both the Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors have struggled offensively this year. Both teams can get bogged down in the half court and have not been able to find their groove despite solid defensive numbers. Both teams are coming off their best offensive games of the year however. It is fun playing poor defenses.
The Orlando Magic thoroughly dismantled the Indiana Pacers on Sunday building as much as a 40-point lead in a 128-116 victory on the road. The Magic posted a 117.4 offensive rating for the game (the third highest mark of the season, but it was a season-high 133.8 through three quarters).
The Toronto Raptors defeated the Detroit Pistons 142-113 and posted a season-high 134.0 offensive rating (the second time they have hit that mark). Things can go very well for the Raptors when it all clicks. It just has not done that very often this year.
The Orlando Magic have not had many home games this year — just four games at the Amway Center with eight road games and one trip to Mexico City for a “home” game. But the energy inside the Amway Center has been especially good.
The Orlando Magic have sold out all four of their games at the Amway Center so far — opening night against the Houston Rockets and games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks.
There are some marquee opponents in there, but Orlando is buying into this team. There is no reason to think the fans will not show up and make the In-Season Tournament game a major event (certainly Friday’s game will be a big one).
The Magic have acknowledged how much the home crowd lifts them. And the stats back that up. In their home games (including the game in Mexico City), the Magic have a more respectable 114.9 offensive rating and an elite 105.0 defensive rating. Orlando has turned in some big performances at the Amway Center already.
There seems to be no reason to think that changes with a six-game homestand on the horizon.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.