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

The Orlando Magic hit the road to start a three-game road trip as they take on the depleted Charlotte Hornets in another critical game they need to bank for their playoff chase.
The Orlando Magic have been playing their best defense of the season since the All-Star Break as they face off with the Charlotte Hornets.
The Orlando Magic have been playing their best defense of the season since the All-Star Break as they face off with the Charlotte Hornets. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Southeast. Magic Hornets Matchup 03.05.24. 7P. 38. March 5, 2024. 15-46. 170. Magic by 8.5 (O/U 208.5). 35-26

Tickets: $7-$8,972 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 130, Hornets 117 in Orlando on Nov. 26; Tonight in Charlotte; March 19 in Orlando; April 5 in Charlotte


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 39-22/31-30 ATS

All the Orlando Magic could ask for during this seven-game stretch against teams with losing records was to take care of their business. They had to see this opportunity to build their record. All they had to do was take care of their business.

The fact this young team has done so to this point is a sign of the team's growth and maturity. But the job is not done yet. And a loss in either of the two next games -- at the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday and at the Washington Wizards on Wednesday

Orlando has had no problems in these games so far this season. The Magic are 20-6 in games against teams with losing records this season. And five of those losses have come to the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets (the Memphis Grizzlies are the other).

The Charlotte Hornets showed some life after the trade deadline with the addition of Grant Williams and Seth Curry. But injuries have hit them hard. LaMelo Ball, Seth Curry and Mark Williams are out. Nick Richards is QUESTIONABLE further thinning their frontcourt.

Charlotte has lost their last four games and appear to have lost that spark from the new additions.

Magic Hornets Prediction 03.05.24. 104. 170. Prediction. 115. 38

3 Keys to Watch

Defensive Dominance

The Orlando Magic have built their season on their defense. They have been a top-five defense for most of the season. That has continued. This stretch since the All-Star Break has seen the team reassert its dominance defensively.

Orlando has held its opponents under 110 points in each of the last seven games. The team has a 105.6 defensive rating since the All-Star Break, the second-best mark in the league. The team put in its best defensive effort of the season in the win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Granted, the level of opponents have not been great. But the Magic are still doing the job. And that is who this team is above all else. This is the team rounding into form in a major way.

Life without LaMelo

The Charlotte Hornets are known most for their offense. LaMelo Ball has been a one-man dynamo driving that team forward and keeping them competitive. But he has been out since late January and he has taken the offense with him.

The Hornets have a 107.3 offensive rating since Ball left the lineup with right ankle tendinopathy. That is the second-worst offensive rating in the league since that point.

The only silver lining for the Hornets is the emergence of rookie Brandon Miller of late. Miller is averaging 21.4 points per game in the last 16 games with Ball out of the lineup. That may be the biggest threat the Magic face with the Hornets searching for playmaking right now.

Turnovers in Focus

The Orlando Magic won their game against the Detroit Pistons fairly easily. The Pistons threatened by cutting a 27-point deficit to 13 in the fourth quarter. The Magic put the starters back in and then raced ahead with the next nine points to put the game away.

The Magic got a bit lazy and lackadaisical in the third and fourth quarters with their bench unit. The big lead caused their attention to wonder. That happens from time to time.

Still, it hints at a larger problem for the Magic. One that has been simmering under the surface. Orlando had 22 turnovers for 28 Detroit points in Sunday's game. That followed a game where the Orlando Magic had 15 turnovers in the win over the Utah Jazz and 19 turnovers against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Magic have a 17.9 percent turnover rate since the All-Star Break, the second-worst turnover rate in the league. That is going to come back to bite them at some point. The Charlotte Hornets could well be that team even without Ball in the lineup.

Next. Magic set upside 03.05.24. Orlando Magic surpass last year's win total, yet to set upside. dark

Orlando though could get itself in trouble. At this point the team could lose because it beats itself.