Our Record: 12-7/10-9 ATS
The Orlando Magic are riding high on a franchise-record-tying nine-game win streak. There is not a lot this team can seemingly do wrong right now.
Yeah, there are concerns about the team's defense having slipped against high-pace and high-scoring teams in the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards. But it is also still abundantly true that this team has found ways to win.
The one thing the Magic have not had to do in this nine-game win streak is win a back-to-back with travel. The only back-to-back on this stretch was a home-home back-to-back with the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets. That is still not easy. And Orlando has not been on the road in two weeks, having completed a perfect 6-0 homestand.
Of course, adding to the intrigue is the Magic are taking the road to face the last team to defeat them -- the loss that likely kept the team from advancing in the In-Season Tournament with a 20-point win a few weeks ago.
And adding even more to the intrigue is the travel involved in playing this game as Orlando goes from Central Florida to New York City overnight. The Magic will have to improve their focus more than what they have shown this week and fight through fatigue to find a way to win. It is a tough, but not impossible ask.
3 Keys to Watch
Offense on the Road
The Orlando Magic are not known as an offensive team and everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop for this team. Is this winning streak just a hot run of scoring for them? Is there something more?
The Orlando Magic have climbed to 12th in the league in offensive rating after three straight games scoring 130 points against the weaker defenses the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards offer. Those games provided a much wider margin for error for this team.
The Magic benefited from some home cooking. The team has an offensive rating of 114.4 points per 100 possessions this season. During the team's six-game homestand, they were at 124.7 points per 100 possessions. It is still early enough in the season that those six games weigh heavily.
And now the Magic have to prove this offense can travel.
It has been a while since Orlando has been on the road. But in eight road games, the Magic are scoring just 106.2 points per 100 possessions. The team has found an offensive groove at home and should improve on these upcoming road games.
Still, the Magic have to prove themselves on the road. And that is the ultimate test for young, up and coming teams.
The Inconsistent Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are looking like the definition of a .500 team at 9-9. They have some scary good offensive pieces and can pour things on as the Orlando Magic saw a few weeks ago.
The Nets are 10th in offensive rating and 22nd in defensive rating for the league so far this season. They are seventh in 3-point attempts and second in 3-point field goal percentage.
If there is a statement of a team living by the three and dying by the three, this is that team.
But Brooklyn is susceptible to teams who can push the pace and match their 3-point shooting. That is what the Charlotte Hornets did in scoring 129 points in a one-point win. That game felt like an outlier after the Brooklyn Nets won three straight games -- including the In-Season Tournament game against the Toronto Raptors that essentially knocked the Orlando Magic out of the competition.
Brooklyn does have bench sharpshooter Cam Thomas back from the sprained ankle that kept him out. He made his return Thursday with 26 points.
The Nets are going to score, the question is whether they will get the stops -- and whether the Magic can keep their scoring up.
The 3-Point Difference
Three-point shooting is undoubtedly going to be the biggest factor in this game. The Brooklyn Nets made 19 of 39 3-point shots in the 124-104 win against the Orlando Magic a few weeks ago. The Magic made a steady 16 for 46.
That game was not lost beyond the arc, but undoubtedly shooting remains the biggest concern for this team. Especially going up against a high-volume shooting team like the Mets.
The Orlando Magic did keep up with the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Hornets this week with their shooting. And Orlando's shooting has come a long way from that night in Brooklyn.
During this nine-game win streak, the Magic are shooting 38.4 percent from three, 10th best among teams in their last nine games. Orlando is hitting its outside shots and doing a good job spreading the ball around to find those shooters.
Is this permanent? That is a key question. But this boost in shooting is a big part of Orlando's win streak and surge. The team will have to make its shots and keep the floor spread in a way the team was not doing when it last faced the Nets.