Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks (April 10, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic have their backs against the wall as their playoff standing slips in the final week. On a tough back-to-back, they face a must-win game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Orlando Magic face a must-win game in Milwaukee as they cling to their hopes of homecourt advantage in the first round of the Playoffs.
The Orlando Magic face a must-win game in Milwaukee as they cling to their hopes of homecourt advantage in the first round of the Playoffs. / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

38. Bally Sports Florida, WMLW The M. Magic Bucks Matchup 04.10.24. 89. Magic by 1.5 (O/U 215.5). 46-33. 48-31. 8P. April 10, 2024

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Season Series:
Magic 112, Bucks 97 in Orlando on Nov. 11; Bucks 118, Magic 114 in Milwaukee on Dec. 21; Tonight in Milwaukee; April 14 in Orlando


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 51-28/39-40 ATS

It really feels like the pressure is starting to get to the Orlando Magic.

The bravado and boisterousness that have powered the Magic to this point of the season and where they sit in the standings have suddenly given way to some form of doubt. This is what Playoff basketball is and the Magic are discovering that early this year.

The situation is pretty clear for the Orlando Magic: The team clinches a playoff spot with a win and losses by the Miami Heat (against the Dallas Mavericks, both on a back-to-back) and Cleveland Cavaliers (against the Memphis Grizzlies). A loss means the Orlando Magic head to Philadelphia with just a one-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers -- and the Sixers own the tiebreaker.

It is easy to panic and see the Magic falling from the 3-seed on Sunday to the Play-In Tournament by the end of the season. The only thing we really know right now is that Game 82 at Kia Center will be meaningful. There will be no nights off for the rest of the season.

And the biggest thing we know right now is the Magic need wins. Period.

Orlando has responded well to losses like Tuesday's 12-point loss in Houston all season long. They followed a 20-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets with a big win over the Chicago Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back in November.

This team has always responded with their defense when they have a bad defensive game. Orlando has not given up 110 points in back-to-back games since February. Expect a more focused defensive effort tonight.

Injuries though are the story.

Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) and Markelle Fultz (left knee injury maintenance) are QUESTIONABLE. Gary Harris is OUT (right foot plantar fascitis injury maintenance). But Jonathan Isaac is set to play in back-to-back games for the first time since the loss to the Atlanta Hawks in late February (and he left that game early with an injury).

The Milwaukee Bucks are expected to be without Giannis Antetokounmpo after a calf strain suffered in Tuesday's win over the Boston Celtics.

With how poorly the Bucks were playing before that game, it is anybody's guess what will happen in this one. Both teams need the win badly.

89. Prediction. 108. 38. Magic Bucks Prediction 04.10.24. 106

3 Keys to Watch

Paolo's Efficiency

Paolo Banchero is going to have to learn very quickly that in the Playoffs he sets the tone for everything this team does. And teams know that and are going to put a lot of pressure on him to perform. This goes double -- or triple, as the case may be -- when Franz Wagner is out.

Banchero has upped his scoring in the last few weeks with back-to-back 30-point games against the New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets. He had 21 points on 7-for-19 shooting in the loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

But like the Hornets game, Banchero started off very poorly against the Rockets. He was hunting mismatches through the Rockets' switching defensive scheme. But the Rockets did a good job both doubling him and reaching in to knock the ball away from him. Banchero made only two of his first eight shots and he was 0 for 5 in the first quarter.

To say the least, the Magic and their offense are going to go how Banchero goes. Especially early in the game where the team has struggled most recently.

If Banchero can get his offense going or be someone who feeds others, the Magic should be fine. But if he gets frustrated with early turnovers and misses like he did Tuesday, it could be another long night trying to climb uphill.

The Bucks without Giannis

The Milwaukee Bucks appear set to play without Giannis Antetokounmpo for the rest of the regular season after he suffered a non-contact calf strain in Tuesday's win over the Boston Celtics. The Bucks at least avoided the worst injury news they could have gotten.

But the Bucks are going to have to find a way to hold onto the 2-seed without Antetokounmpo. And that is a tall task -- the Milwaukee Bucks close with the Orlando Magic at home, the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road and the Orlando Magic on the road. The Milwaukee Bucks are 3-3 in games without Antetokounmpo, including a loss last week to the Toronto Raptors.

Overall this season, the Bucks have a -4.2 net rating with Antetokounmpo off the floor. The Bucks' offense craters to 109.0 points per 100 possessions when he is off the floor too. That should play into the Orlando Magic's hands if they play defense.

But Milwaukee still has Damian Lillard. And this is just not a team anybody can sleep on with so much on the line.

Moe Wagner at the basket

If the Orlando Magic should have one advantage against the Milwaukee Bucks with all the questions surrounding them, it is in their depth. That has been among the Magic's superpowers this year with the fourth-highest-scoring bench in the league.

The bench did not let the Magic down Tuesday night either. Orlando used a big run to start the fourth quarter to get the deficit to six and Jamahl Mosley rode the bench as long as he could (and perhaps a tick too long).

Moe Wagner though would probably say he was disappointed in his effort Tuesday night.

He still scored 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting. But he was only 4 for 7 in the restricted area. This followed a game against the Chicago Bulls where he scored only eight points and made only 3 of 8 inside the restricted area (he was 3 for 11 overall).

Wagner has been among the best players in the league scoring at the basket. He is shooting 67.7 percent within 10 feet this season, the seventh-best mark in the league among players who have appeared in at least 50 games and take 5.0 field goal attempts per game within 10 feet.

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Wagner has been reliable around the basket and this downturn -- especially with how much the Magic struggled in the paint in Tuesday's game -- is a big part of the frustration for the team recently.