Orlando Magic at Houston Rockets (April 9, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic start a difficult three-game road trip to end their season as they take on the recently eliminated Houston Rockets in a must-win game to start a tough back-to-back.
Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic will try to solidify their playoff position as they take on the Houston Rockets to start a three-game road trip.
Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic will try to solidify their playoff position as they take on the Houston Rockets to start a three-game road trip. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Bally Sports Florida, Space City Home Network. Magic Rockets Matchup 04.09.24. 38-40. Magic by 2 (O/U 213). 38. April 9, 2024. 169. 8P. 46-32

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Season Series:
Magic 116, Rockets 86 on Oct. 25 in Orlando; Tonight in Houston


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 51-27/38-40 ATS

It has been a long time since the Orlando Magic's 30-point season-opening win over the Houston Rockets. In a battle of two up-and-coming teams, it seemed to suggest the Magic were light years ahead. Nobody knew then how that was a preview of what the Magic would become this season.

The Rockets certainly turned out better than 30 points worse than the Magic too. They went on an incredible run to be the last team eliminated from the Western Conference playoff picture like the Magic were last year. The Rockets have a bright future ahead of them.

But they lost five in a row after their 12-game win streak to take them out of postseason contention.

The Magic still have work to do. And they will face a team that is not easy to beat on their home floor. The Rockets are 26-14 at the Toyota Center. This will be a question of motivation as much as anything. And the Magic have to continue to sharpen themselves for the Playoffs.

Orlando may have to do it without Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) and Jonathan Isaac (back spasms) as both are QUESTIONABLE for Tuesday's game. The Rockets will be at full strength with Amen Thompson AVAILABLE again with a right fifth finger tendon injury. Although who knows if they will play their regular minutes.

That will make this a tough challenge for the Magic, especially if they are without two key forwards.

38. Magic Rockets Prediction 04.09.24. 107. 169. Prediction. 108

3 Keys to Watch

Playoff Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero sat and spoke to the media after the loss to the LA Clippers and said he needed to play better quite simply. His poor shooting and high turnovers that game were a big reason why the Magic were unable to get a big win over a quality opponent.

After the Orlando Magic's win over the New Orleans Pelicans, he said he told the coaches before the game that he knew it was time for him to kick into high gear ahead of the Playoffs. The Magic need to see Playoff Paolo.

He had 32 points in that win over the Pelicans. He followed that with 32 against the Charlotte Hornets. Since the loss to the Clippers, Banchero is averaging 23.2 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game. In his last three games, he is averaging 29.3 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game and 5.7 assists per game.

With the potential for Franz Wagner to miss Tuesday's game, the Magic may need Banchero to up his efficiency and scoring again. They will need him to carry the playoff burden early to score the win.

What's Next for the Rockets?

Currently, the Houston Rockets have everyone available who was not previously injured (Alperen Sengun and Tari Eason have been dealing with long-term injuries). But with their postseason hopes ended, they may be inclined to ease off the minutes for some key players -- especially veterans Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks.

The Rockets though are still a young team. And getting some work in and getting experience against teams like the Orlando Magic, who are still competing for something, will be good for them. It has been a season of tremendous growth for Houston.

That starts with Jalen Green, the second pick of that celebrated 2021 Draft class. Green is averaging 19.9 points per game with a 49.9 percent effective field goal percentage. But since the All-Star Break, he is averaging 24.3 points per game with a 53.8 percent effective field goal percentage.

Things have started to click for Green. The Rockets may still be interested in letting their young players play. Especially with four games remaining. But Houston may ease off the throttle some.

The Turnover Questions

The Orlando Magic's defense has feasted off turnovers all year. That is what the Orlando Magic used Sunday to stake their early lead against the Chicago Bulls, forcing seven of the 21 turnovers in the first quarter. That counteracted a good shooting game from the Bulls.

The Magic are second in the league forcing a 15.4 percent turnover rate. Teams know they cannot turn the ball over against Orlando.

The Houston Rockets are eighth in the league with a 12.7 percent turnover rate. And so this is an easy place to see if the Magic are successful. Orlando will have to manufacture some turnovers in this one.

Similarly, the Magic have to protect the ball. They are 26th in the league with a 15.1 percent turnover rate. That gets them in trouble especially going up against teams that like to push the pace like the Rockets do. Orlando has to limit possessions.

Next. Markelle Fultz breakthrough 04.08.24. Markelle Fultz breaking through with best ball at critical time. dark

That will be a big part to watch for the Magic. And as Orlando aims to fine tune itself for the Playoffs, this is a good place for the team to start.