Orlando Magic at New York Knicks (March 8, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic get a big test when they go up against the New York Knicks on the road as they aim to solidify their playoff position and put their grips on being the 4-seed.
Paolo Banchero leads the Orlando Magic into a big matchup with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Paolo Banchero leads the Orlando Magic into a big matchup with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

27. Knicks by 1 (O/U 207.5). 37-26. 38. Bally Sports Florida, MSG. March 8, 2024. Magic Knicks Matchup 03.08.24. 36-26. 7:30P

Tickets: $109-$16,117 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 117, Knicks 108 in Orlando on Dec. 29; Magic 98, Knicks 94 in New York City on Jan. 15; Magic 118, Knicks 100 in Orlando on Feb. 14; Tonight in New York City


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 41-22/33-30 ATS

The Orlando Magic have feasted on the weakest part of their schedule. Their last seven games were against teams with records below .500. Many of those teams are not even in the playoff race. So if there are people who want to doubt the Magic's rise to fourth in the Eastern Conference and their five-game win streak, they have some reason to do so.

Still, the Magic did the job. They are playing well and getting after teams with a hounding defense. There are a lot of things the Magic are doing and doing well that will translate when the competition stiffens. Just as that defense and hot shooting have covered up some major flaws that will hurt the team.

The Orlando Magic have had the New York Knicks' number this season. Granted, the Magic have not seen the Knicks at full strength this year. And they will not see them at full strength Friday either -- with Julius Randle (dislocated right shoulder) and OG Anunoby (right elbow surgery) still out and Jalen Brunson (left knee contusion) questionable.

Brunson's status will have a big impact on this game. But the real question is whether the Magic can sharpen up and play at a high level against stronger competition. Even without their stars, the Knicks can still be a potent team.

27. Prediction. 107. 38. Magic Knicks Prediction 03.08.24. 103

3 Keys To Watch

Defensive dominance

All year long whenever questions about the Orlando Magic's inconsistent offense come up, coach Jamahl Mosley always stresses the importance of defending regardless. Defense travels and that is who this team has to be. The Magic are their defense.

Why are they on a five-game winning streak and have won 13 of the past 16 games? Defense.

Orlando is giving up 111.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (fourth in the league). In the last five games, the team is giving up 100.0 points per 100 possessions (first in the league). In the last 15 games, the team is giving up 110.0 points per 100 possessions (seventh in the league).

The Magic's defense is dominating right now. And, yes, some of that is because they are feasting on weaker competition. But orlando can carry that defense over. There may be a letdown coming soon. Then again, that might have been the first half against the Washington Wizards.

Injury Setbacks

New York Knicks fans may scoff at the thought the Orlando Magic have a 3-0 series lead on them and could sweep the season series. They have not been healthy in any of the three games -- and the one game they were was the game before they dealt for OG Anunoby. These two teams have not faced off at full strength. A playoff series would be very different.

There is no doubt how different the team is with OG Anunoby and now without.

From the time Anunoby made his debut for the Knicks on Jan. 1 until his final game before the injury on Jan. 27, the Knicks had the second-best net rating in the league at +15.1 points per 100 possessions including an impossible 104.1 defensive rating. The Knicks were rolling with a 12-2 record.

Since then, the Knicks are 7-9 with a -2.7 net rating and 117.5 defensive rating. Things have slipped a ton. And the injury and potential absence from Jalen Brunson (who missed the Magic's January win in Madison Square Garden with OG Anunoby in the lineup) only puts the Knicks further in the hole.

Paolo's Statement

The Orlando Magic got the spotlight shined on them nationally Thursday with Jamahl Mosley going on The Rich Eisen Show, Scott Van Pelt dedicating a segment with Tim Legler on his SportsCenter to the Magic and the Tuesday night TNT crew even singing (literally) the Magic's praises.

But there was also the frustration that the Magic are not getting enough attention and that a lot of national analysts get things wrong. An off-handed comment on The Ringer NBA Show brought the pitchforks out as appreciation for Paolo Banchero seems to be at a strange and unusual low.

To say the least, a high-profile and critically important game for Paolo Banchero and the Magic in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks is a chance to quiet a lot of people who are not paying attention.

It is not just that Banchero has stepped up this year -- 22.9 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and 5.2 assists per game. It is not just that Banchero has stepped up in the last 15 games -- 22.5 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor and 37.7 percent from deep.

Banchero scored 20 points including several clutch shots in the win at the Garden in January. He is averaging 23.8 points per game in six career games against the Knicks.

Next. Moe Wagner offense 03.08.24. Moe Wagner has embraced Magic's offensive identity. dark

Banchero can step up on the big stage. And this is a big one.