Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets (April 5, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic wrap up their quick road trip as they aim for a season series sweep over the Charlotte Hornets as they build toward the Playoffs and near clinching their spot.
The Orlando Magic close their road trip against the Charlotte Hornets as they inch closer to clinching a Playoff spot.
The Orlando Magic close their road trip against the Charlotte Hornets as they inch closer to clinching a Playoff spot. / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Magic by 12.5 (O/U 206). Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Southeast. 170. 18-58. 7P. 45-31. 38. April 5, 2024. Magic Hornets 04.05.24

Tickets: $11-$273 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 130, Hornets 117 in Orlando on Nov. 26; Magic 101, Hornets 89 in Charlotte on March 5; Magic 112, Hornets 92 in Orlando on March 19; Tonight in Charlotte


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 50-26/38-38 ATS

Paolo Banchero knew he had to have a big game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He knew it was the time of the season when players like him to take over. He took that upon himself throughout Wednesday's win. But he noted too that one of the reasons he may have needed to lock back in was because of the quality of the opponent.

The Orlando Magic's win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday felt like a loss in a lot of ways. And it was enough of a wake-up call that led to the team's victory over the Pelicans on Wednesday. And Orlando has dominated opponetns with records worse than .500 -- the team is tied for the most such wins this season.

Still, the Magic have to take care of business. They have done that against the Charlotte Hornets three times already, although not with too much ease all the time.

The Magic can clearly outclass the Hornets. They know they need to turn it on, so to speak, for a short spurt and that should be enough to build a comfortable lead. But that is not the standard right now, is it?

This game is a test then of the Magic's focus and intensity. It is one they absolutely cannot drop and their approach will say a lot about where Orlando is out.

97. 170. Prediction. 114. 38. Magic Hornets Prediction 04.05.24

3 Keys to Watch

Franz Wagner peaking through

The dream of the Orlando Magic having their first pair of players to average 20 points per game in the same season has dwindled. Franz Wagner's poor March almost guarantees that. If Wagner plays the remaining six games, he would need to average 24.3 points per game the rest of the season to hit 20.0 points per game.

That is not impossible, but Wagner would need to go on a serious scoring binge and scoring has been a struggle.

But here is the good news, Wagner has at least put together two solid games and showing some signs of life from the perimeter as a shooter.

With his 20 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and 24 points against the New Orleans Pelicans, he scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time since scoring 34 points against the Chicago Bulls and 36 points against the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 8 and 10. It has been a while.

He has made four of his last eight 3-pointers, including 3 for 6 against the Pelicans. The Magic hope this is the start of a trend heading toward the Playoffs.

Goodbye Steve Clifford

The Charlotte Hornets made (expected) news this week when they announced Steve Clifford would be stepping down as head coach at the end of the season and taking on a role in the front office. The Hornets are already requesting permission and exploring their coaching candidates.

Clifford had a rough time in his second stint with the Hornets. In two seasons, he has gone 45-113 (.285 win percentage). That is certainly not what he imagined with a roster that included LaMelo Ball. Unfortunately his best player was injured for most of his tenure. The Hornets was hit by the injury bug and never fully healthy.

The Magic certainly have appreciation for Clifford. He salvaged the best years of the Nikola Vucevic era, proving that there was at least something that could have worked with that group. The 42-40 playoff team in 2019 was one of the most beloved runs in the franchise's history.

There is a reason that this year's team was doing everything for the first time since the 2019 team and now since the 2011 team, when Clifford was an assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy.

The Magic owe a lot to Clifford. And while there was always the usual annoyance with rotation decisions and second-guessing that comes with being a head coach, Clifford gave a lot to the team. It is kind of sad this is probably his last time coaching against the Magic.

In reserve

The Orlando Magic have helped build their record and build their place in the league with a killer bench group that. Orlando's second unit anchored with Moe Wagner and Cole Anthony has crushed opponents, getting the team back into a lot of games after slow starts and expanding leads otherwise.

Wagner is starting to get into gear to continue his career season.

He has had some wild scoring swings at the moment. But a big scoring game from Wagner is usually a good sign. He scored 18 points in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. And his ability to crash the lane and score was a big boost to the team.

Anthony has had his moments too. Anthony had only five points Wednesday, but he scored nine in the win over the Portland Trail Blazers and 15 in the win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Those are big scoring boosts for the bench and one of the team's powers.

Magic back to the paint 04.04.24. Orlando Magic have to get back to the paint to use 3-point gains. dark. Next

Orlando this year is fourth in the league with 41.7 points per game from bench players. The team is third with 42.3 per game since the All-Star Break. Bench scoring is a big part of the equation. And Orlando needs to see Wagner and Anthony especially round into form and be X-factors for the Playoffs.