Our Record: 28-16/23-21 ATS
The Orlando Magic needed some time off. They needed some time to get some practice time in and tighten things up and at least inch closer to getting fully healthy and in rhythm. Never mind that the team is 1-2 with three or more days of rest. Those two losses came when the other team also had three days rest during the In-Season Tournament.
The Magic needed some time to get themselves right. Now, they must see if they can apply those lessons back on the floor. And the team needs to do that to stay in the playoff race -- a win would tie it with the Miami Heat for seventh in the East -- and get back on track.
The Magic will have that opportunity. The Memphis Grizzlies are severely injured at the moment, playing without Ja Morant (right shoulder surgery), Marcus Smart (right ring finger), Desmond Bane (left ankle sprain) and Steven Adams (right knee surgery). The Magic know what it feels like to have a lot of players out. They should not feel sorry for them.
Memphis will not, either. This Grizzlies team is playing hard and giving teams trouble. Jaren Jackson Jr. is still back there to protect the rim. This is not a team to sleep on, especially with how poorly the Magic have played lately.
3 Keys to Watch
The Orlando Magic hoped they spent their practice time this week sharpening things and tightening the reins. The Magic have let some things slip that are critical to their success. And this is the kind of game -- the first one in a while -- where the Magic should be in control if they execute.
That means the priority is not to leave the door open with mistakes that keep a struggling offensive team -- the worst in the league -- in the game. Orlando cannot turn the ball over if it wants to win in this one.
The Magic are 26th in the league in turnover rate at 14.9 percent. That has been a number that has stayed relatively consistent even through the team's struggles. It is a pestering problem that does not feel so bad when the team is playing well on defense but gets worse as the team struggles.
Orlando has given up 20 points off turnovers in three of its last six games. That is a significant factor in some of the team's defeats. The Magic have to take care of themselves and protect their possessions to have a chance to win this game the way they should.
Stepping up with Injuries
The Orlando Magic know all too well how much injuries can affect a team's success. They are just coming out of a window where several key players were hurt, and the team struggled to assemble a fully healthy roster.
The Orlando Magic never had it as bad as the Memphis Grizzlies have it now. They are missing four of their five expected starters. They have leaned on Jaren Jackson Jr. (24.4 points per game since Jan. 7 when Ja Morant went out with his shoulder injury). But after him, they have needed Vince Williams Jr., Luke Kennard and GG Jackson to help fill in.
The Grizzlies are not a solid offensive team to begin with. Losing out all of those weapons has hurt the team even more. Since Jan. 7, the Grizzlies have had a 110.3 offensive rating. That is still better than the Magic's offensive rating in that time (107.4). And Memphis will still defend well.
They have had to play scrappy. The Grizzlies have found a way to stay competitive. This is not a team to overlook or look past.
Franz Wagner Difference
The Orlando Magic have had Franz Wagner back for two games. So there is not a whole lot to conclude from his play so far.
Wagner scored 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting with five assists in his return game against the Miami Heat. He followed that up with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting but three turnovers in the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He can still clearly score. And there were obviously bigger issues in Monday's loss.
In the past two games, the Magic have a 113.6 offensive rating with Wagner on the floor. That is better than the team's season average and better than the 110.9 offensive rating the Magic have posted in the last two games.
Of course, that is a small sample size. That is not enough to draw conclusions. But Wagner is a help. That should be clear. And the Magic need to get him back into the swing of things quickly.