WATCH MAGIC-PISTONS ON FUBO TV
FOLLOW LIVE: @OMAGICDAILY
Tickets: $18-$133,624 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 123, Pistons 91 in Orlando on Dec. 8; Today in Detroit; Feb. 24 in Detroit; March 3 in Orlando
Our Record: 30-19/26-23 ATS
The Orlando Magic seem to be back on track. They picked up a massive win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday for consecutive wins, their first win streak since Jan. 7. It has been a while. And things seem to be moving in the right direction now that the Magic are finally fully healthy.
That has led to the team getting a spark defensively. That is where everything for the Magic starts. Things are trending back in the right direction, even if offense can still be a bit iffy.
Getting that rhythm back should also lead to the Magic finding their offense again. Playing against a team like the Detroit Pistons should help, too.
But do not sleep on the struggling Pistons. They have two wins in their last five games, including a win in a Sunday matinee last week against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their usually struggling offense is averaging 116.6 points per game. And that includes three games over 120 points.
With Cade Cunningham probable for the game, the Pistons will have a lot of offensive weapons available to try to score another upset.
3 Keys To Watch
Push for the Paint
When facing a team like the Detroit Pistons, you must be more in tune with your basics and not fall into the trap of getting bored with what works. The Orlando Magic fall into this trap on occasion. They are still learning how to be themselves in a lot of ways.
The team's return to health has gotten them playing more like the team that broke quickly out of the gates to start the season. At least the defense is getting there.
That still means the Magic must emphasize getting to the paint. That has been an area the team has struggled since Franz Wagner's injury on Jan. 3.
The team averages 52.4 points in the paint per game (eighth in the league). Since Jan. 3, the Magic have averaged just 45.0 points in the paint per game. That is why the showing against the Minnesota Timberwolves was so important. Orlando scored 54 points in the paint Friday and scored 62 points in the paint in Wednesday's win over the San Antonio Spurs.
That is more like the way the Magic worked earlier in the season. And going up against a Detroit Pistons team that gives up 55.5 points in the paint per game, getting to the basket and the paint is essential to the team's success.
Cade Cunningham's Season
It has been a hard few seasons for Cade Cunningham. After a strong rookie season, injuries robbed him of his second season. Even this year has seen him go in and out of the lineup. He is still on the injury list as PROBABLE for Sunday's game with left knee injury management.
Cunningham has appeared in 39 games this season. But the Pistons are obviously still being careful.
He is still playing very well. Cunningham is averaging 22.5 points and 7.5 assists per game. He is shooting a career-best 44.8 percent from the floor.
He has missed games recently, though, appearing in only three games since Jan. 9. He scored 16 points and dished out 11 assists in Friday's loss to the LA Clippers. So Cunningham is still producing even if the Pistons are struggling to put their pieces together.
Defense back to form?
The Orlando Magic have one of the best defenses in the league. That part has not changed about this team. But there has been considerable slipping. The Magic hoped for health to get back to this expected level.
Orlando is fifth overall with a 111.5 defensive rating. But since Jan. 3, the Magic are seventh at 112.7. That is a significant slip, considering how much the offense has struggled with Franz Wagner out with an injury and Cole Anthony struggling to find his shot.
The Magic's defense is playing better of late, though. Take out Monday's 132.3 defensive rating against the Dallas Mavericks, and the Orlando Magic have given up 106.0, 96.1, 100.0 and 113.8 points per 100 possessions in their last five games.
That looks more like the Magic's suffocating defense.
Jonathan Isaac's presence is a big part of that. Isaac played in every one of those games except the second half against the Mavericks. That correlation is hard to ignore. But the Magic are getting themselves straightened out on defense.