Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks (February 25, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic close their three-game road trip out of the All-Star Break with another chance to top the Atlanta Hawks after three close games in their first three games of the season series.

Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic aim to close out their season series with the Atlanta Hawks and their road trip with a win.
Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic aim to close out their season series with the Atlanta Hawks and their road trip with a win. / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

32-25. Feb. 25, 2024. 24-32. Magic by 1 (O/U 226). 7P. 38. Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Southeast. Magic Hawks Matchup 02.25.24. 125

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Season Series:
Hawks 120, Magic 119 in Mexico City on Nov. 9; Magic 117, Hawks 110 in Orlando on Jan. 7; Hawks 106, Magic 104 in Atlanta on Jan. 17; Tonight in Atlanta


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 35-22/29-28 ATS

When the schedule comes out, you can usually point to three or four games that are just schedule losses. They are usually because of tough travel circumstances more than anything else. Being on an airplane is tough. Playing a game, traveling on said airplane and then playing another game is just extra tough.

Thanks to the Detroit Red Wings-Detroit Pistons doubleheader at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday, not only did the Orlando Magic have to make the difficult trip from Detroit to Atlanta for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Hawks but it also meant an 8 p.m. tip-off in Detroit leading to a Sunday 7 p.m. tip in Atlanta.

Everything is going to be stacked against the Magic tonight. And that is before getting to Gary Harris being out with injury maintenance and the return of Markelle Fultz from missing the last three games. And that is not even considering how much Jonathan Isaac might play with his own injury management and whether Paolo Banchero will be feeling healthy enough to play.

The only break the Magic are getting is Trae Young's absence with a finger injury.

Still, there are no excuses in this league. Every team has these games. And they are still able to win them despite all these things working against them. The Magic have not been very good on the second night of back-to-backs. And the Hawks can still be a dangerous offensive team for a defense that has seen some slippage.

Prediction. 113. 38. Magic Hawks Prediction 02.25.24. 118. 125

3 Keys to Watch

Magic's Clutch Record

There is a lot of celebration within the Orlando Magic community after Paolo Banchero hit the game-winning and-one jumper to defeat the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. Banchero has steadily built one of the best clutch resumes in the league this year.

He has three go-ahead baskets in the final seconds -- defeating the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls at the end of the game back in November. He is eighth in the league in total clutch points with 92 (when the game is within five points in the final five minutes). He is fifth in the league with 36 points in the final minute of clutch situations.

The Magic as a team are 18-11 (the sixth-best win percentage) in clutch situations this year. Orlando has done well to build its record because of strong performances in close games. The Magic are better playing from ahead with a 102.7/100.0 offensive/defensive rating split.

Of course, two of those losses have come to the Atlanta Hawks.

The Magic lost a late lead in Mexico City only to see Dejounte Murray hit a corner three in the last minute to defeat them there. And then Murray hit a buzzer-beater after a tough 3-pointer from Banchero to win in Atlanta last month. The Magic's lone win was an overtime victory at Kia Center.

When these teams have gotten together, it usually ends up being a close game. There is not a lot separating these teams on the court. Clutch play is going to be a factor in this one.

Life without Trae

A lot of what the Atlanta Hawks do still revolves around Trae Young and the fear he engenders with his shooting and passing ability. Young is averaging 26.4 points per game and 10.8 assists per game. He is as dangerous as ever.

But the Hawks are 2-3 with Young out of the lineup. When Young is off the floor, the Hawks have a -3.2 net rating (114.1 offensive rating/117.3 defensive rating). That still paints the picture of a dangerous offense, but not nearly as lethal as they are with Young. That opens the door for a team like the Orlando Magic to find some production.

The bigger loss might be playing without Onyeka Okongwu. The Hawks have a -4.8 net rating with a 119.3 defensive rating when Okongwu is off the floor.

The Magic will still have their work cut out for them, but the Hawks are much less potent without Young.

The Back-to-Back Issue

These are stats we have been tracking throughout the season. Back-to-backs has been a big one, especially considering the Orlando Magic had just one win on the second night of back-to-backs last year.

The simple number is this: The Magic are 3-8 on the second night of back-to-backs. Two of those came without travel on home-home back-to-backs -- the November win over the Denver Nuggets and the win last week over the New York Knicks. And the other one was Paolo Banchero's game-winner over the Chicago Bulls in November.

The issue gets worse when you dive into the numbers.

On the second night of back-to-backs, the Magic's offensive rating drops to 111.0 points per 100 possessions. That is not a huge dip from their season numbers. The bigger issue is their defense balloons to 118.7 points allowed per 100 possessions.

Next. Soft Schedule 02.25.24. Orlando Magic must take advantage of softening schedule. dark

Orlando's defense has struggled even during this solid 10-game stretch -- the team gives up 113.2 points per 100 possessions in the last 10 and 118.2 in the last five. The focus in this game needs to be on the defense. If the Magic can defend at a high level, they will have their chance to win.