Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks (January 29, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic start a critical five-game road trip heading to the trade deadline as they look to build on Sunday's major win over the Phoenix Suns with another tough challenge in Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Luka Doncic has been on a tear for the last five games and for the entire season, presenting another tough challenge for the Orlando Magic's defense.
Luka Doncic has been on a tear for the last five games and for the entire season, presenting another tough challenge for the Orlando Magic's defense. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Jan. 29, 2024. Magic Mavs Matchup 01.29.24. Mavericks by 4 (O/U 227.5). 8:30P. 79. 24-22. 38. Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Southwest. 25-21

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Season Series:
Mavericks 117, Magic 102 in Orlando on Nov. 6; Tonight in Dallas


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 28-18/23-23 ATS

The Orlando Magic suddenly awoke Sunday evening against the Phoenix Suns. Yes, Devin Booker scored 44 points. But the Magic's defense was disruptive all night, using turnovers to force their way back into the game. And then the defense just put a vice grip on the Suns, holding them to 13 points in the quarter and just six in the final 10 minutes of the game.

The question is always about whether the Magic can do it again. They had a strong showing defensively against the Miami Heat last Sunday, only to play their worst defensive game of the season on Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What the Magic are looking for more than anything is consistency. The team has lacked that since November when the win streak ended. And consistency is hard to find.

It is hard to find, considering how good Luka Doncic is playing and how dangerous that makes the Mavericks. Back-to-backs are tricky, especially for this Magic team.

Magic Mavs Prediction 01.29.24. 112. 79. Prediction. 109. 38

3 Keys to Watch

The Jonathan Isaac Revival

The best game of Jonathan Isaac's career happened on the court at American Airlines Center. On Nov. 6, 2019, Isaac recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and six blocks. He nearly turned in a mythical 5x5 stat line. He put Kristaps Porzingis in a bottleneck.

It was this game when everyone believed Isaac would be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. This was all before Isaac injured his knee the first time and then injured it again in the bubble in August 2020.

Isaac is starting to look like that player again. Look no further than his Devin Booker block and the Udoka Azubuike recovery block in Sunday's game. It is just an unreal play.

Isaac played more than 20 minutes in Friday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time since before that original knee injury in December 2019. He did it again on Sunday. And he is not on the injury report for Monday's game, marking Isaac's first back-to-back since Dec. 20 and 21.

The Magic are other-worldly defensively with Isaac on the floor. He has a 99.5 defensive rating with Isaac on the floor, the best among the Magic's rotation players.

The Doncic Difference

Luka Doncic is everything for the Dallas Mavericks. He is putting up solid numbers -- 34.4 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game and 9.4 assists per game.

That does not get to his recent run of 40.2 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game and 11.2 assists per game in his last five games, including a 72-point effort against the Atlanta Hawks.

Luka Doncic has had to step up his game with Kyrie Irving, who is dealing with a wrist injury. Irving has missed the last three games. Doncic has had to take over.

The issue, though, is that Doncic's heliocentrism has hurt Dallas. The Dallas Mavericks have lost four of their last five games, with two double-digit losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns. Dallas is still dangerous and can score a ton with great shooting and energy from their role players.

But it is all about Doncic. And if the Orlando Magic can find a way to slow him down as they eventually did with Devin Booker on Sunday, they have their chance to win.

Back-To-Back Problems

The Dallas Mavericks seem like a team that is ripe to get picked off with how much they have struggled and where their defense is without Kyrie Irving on the floor. But the Orlando Magic's young crew has struggled in back-to-backs.

Orlando this year is only 2-7 on the second night of back-to-backs, which is better than the 1-12 record last year. The Magic have struggled on the second night of back-to-backs.

And that is a bigger deal when you look at the numbers.

On the second night of back-to-backs, the Magic have a 117.3 defensive rating and a 106.4 offensive rating. Both the defense and offense are significantly worse on the second night of back-to-backs. It is not a matter of one thing falling off. Everything falls off.

Next. Proof of concept PG 01.29.24. Orlando Magic seeking proof of concept at point guard. dark

Orlando will have to figure out this problem at some point. It is a piece of the team's maturity and growth. Fortunately, there are no back-to-backs in the Playoffs.