Orlando Magic at New York Knicks (January 15, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic's road trip continues as they try to get some healthy bodies back for a matinee against the surging New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The Orlando Magic have to shape up their defense to give themselves a chance against the New York Knicks in a Monday matinee.
The Orlando Magic have to shape up their defense to give themselves a chance against the New York Knicks in a Monday matinee. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

38. Bally Sports Florida, MSG. 27. 3P. 21-18. Jan. 15, 2024. Magic Knicks Matchup 01.15.24. 23-16. Knicks by 7 (O/U 222)

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Season Series:
Magic 117, Knicks 108 in Orlando on Dec. 29; Tonight in New York City; Feb. 14 in Orlando; March 8 in New York City


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 26-13/20-19 ATS

The Orlando Magic are searching for some relief right now. Perhaps they will get it in the form of Joe Ingles, Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac all set to play for the team as they return from their injuries. The Magic's plan for now is only to hold them out on back-to-backs -- and there is not another one of those until a home-home back-to-back next weekend.

The Magic though still have a lot to figure out.

Paolo Banchero has been dominant because he has to be. And while some reinforcements off the bench are certainly welcome, the team needs more consistency from its starters. And that has been a huge struggle since Franz Wagner left the lineup after spraining his ankle now two weeks ago.

The New York Knicks are not having those problems. Jalen Brunson is listed as QUESTIONABLE for the game with a left calf contusion. But whether he plays or not, the Knicks have been on a roll since their loss to the Magic a few weeks ago at Kia Center.

A lot of that is the energy that has come from acquiring OG Anunoby. He has helped the Knicks get their defense back even though their depth has taken a hit. The Magic are going to have to find a way to crack another tough defense and create some rhythm and confidence.

38. Magic Knicks Prediction 01.15.24. 107. 27. Prediction. 105

3 Keys to Watch

Defense Faltering

The Orlando Magic have built much of their success this season on their defense. Despite whatever struggles we might describe shortly, the Magic are still fifth in the league in defensive rating for the season at 111.2 points per 100 possessions.

But coach Jamahl Mosley knows they have been slipping in that regard. Despite a solid 112-point outing (114.3 defensive rating) in Saturday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Orlando Magic gave up 62 points in the paint.

That is not the Magic's defense.

Unfortunately, that has been what the Magic's defense has looked like lately. In the Orlando Magic's last six games without Franz Wagner (including the double overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings), the Magic have a 112.5 defensive rating. That is still good for seventh in the league during that time.

But with Orlando missing some key offensive players, that little defensive slip is enough to throw the team completely off. The margin for error for the Magic is really small right now because the team just is not scoring consistently.

Knicks Since the Trade

When the Orlando Magic defeated the New York Knicks on Dec. 29, it felt like the two teams were gearing up for a major playoff chase.

The Magic have since faced injuries and fallen off. The Knicks turned around and traded two key players in Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett for OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa (among other pieces).

The trade has worked for the Knicks.

New York had an offensive/defensive rating split of 117.0/114.8 with a 17-14 record. Since the trade, the Knicks are 6-2 with a 119.8/107.9 offensive/defensive rating split. That looks more like the profile of a Tom Thibodeau Knicks team.

How much of this is the fumes of newness and how much will last? In this tight Eastern Conference playoff race, it might end up making a huge difference for them. Just as the Magic's injuries are costing them pace in the standings.

Happy Returns

If the Orlando Magic have some reason for hope, it is that the team is starting to get a bit healthier. There does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel right now.

They saw that in Joe Ingles returning to the lineup Friday, scoring 14 points and helping charge the Magic to comebacks in the second and fourth quarters. His playmaking and facilitating are vital for the team's success.

Jonathan Isaac returned to the lineup Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even though he looked a bit rusty, his defensive impact was pretty clear too. Everyone is still getting back into shape -- including Markelle Fultz.

Wendell Carter is QUESTIONABLE too with his right knee tendinitis. There is still always the chance he could return and give the Magic some needed reinforcements on the interior against a great interior defender in Isaiah Hartenstein.

Next. Suggs Keys 01.13.24. Jalen Suggs holds the keys to Orlando Magic's future. dark

Those injuries are starting to correct themselves. That is some good news.