Our Record: 22-11/17-16 ATS
The Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings have the bad taste in their mouths of late-game losses on Tuesday night. And they are both young teams learning how to win more consistently in the league right now. They are both going through some struggles right now.
For the Magic, a high-turnover game again stymied the offense even on a night when they were hitting shots from the outside. Orlando again had the game close in the fourth quarter, but could not execute down the stretch and succumbed to Stephen Curry's gravity.
The Sacramento Kings turned the ball over a lot too and struggled from the outside for Terry Rozier to take over down the stretch and help the Charlotte Hornets snap their long losing streak. Both teams then showed their inexperience and youth.
They both know they are better than that. And the Magic and Kings will be hungry to get wins to keep pace in their respective conferences. Orlando is desperate for a win too to avoid going 0-3 on this West Coast road trip with the visit to Denver to close the trip out.
The Magic need some urgency in this one.
3 Keys To Watch
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
Despite back-to-back losses that felt very similar for the Orlando Magic, there does not seem to be a lot of panic. Franz Wagner spoke after the game like he did after the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks a few weeks ago. The Magic followed that game up with a big win in Indiana against a similarly fast-paced, up-and-down team.
Orlando knows it is doing a lot of really good things and all the mistakes are its own. These are things the team can clean up.
Back-to-back games with a lot of turnovers are concerning. And the Magic are struggling to initiate offense relying solely on Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner handling the ball. They have seen a major increase in turnovers in the last few games.
The Magic's turnover rate has passed 15.0 percent now. And that is a number the team has to bring down. It is not about the points they give up off turnovers -- Orlando gave up 18 points off 18 turnovers in the loss to Golden State. It is about opportunities lost. And the Magic simply cannot afford to give away possessions with how much their offense struggles.
Battle for the Arc
The Sacramento Kings have a reputation of being a fast-paced team that gets up and down and sprays out for a lot of threes. And the Kings are one of the best shooting teams in the league. But the team has slowed its pace down considerably. And Sacramento is not the all-time best offense it was last year.
The Kings this year are just 10th in the league in pace and 27th in fast-break points per game with just 12.0 per game. The Kings are trying to be a better half-court team.
But this team can still shoot and they get a ton of threes up.
The Orlando Magic know they cannot get into a track meet with the Sacramento Kings. That is a team that can hit a bunch of shots in a hurry.
Sacramento is third in the league with 15.1 3-pointers per game and 16th in percentage at 36.8 percent. The Kings take 41.1 3-point attempts per game, the third-most in the league.
This game is going to come down to 3-point defense and whether the Magic can make up the difference from deep. After all, Sacramento hit a season-high 23 3-pointers in the game at Golden1 Center last year.
Battle for the Paint
So for the Orlando Magic winning the paint becomes even more important. The Orlando Magic still managed 54 points in the paint in Tuesday's loss to the Golden State Warriors. But they gave up 46 points in the paint. And Orlando made a struggling 27 of 53 in the paint.
If the Magic were optimistic about their loss, it was that they saw they had opportunities in the paint and they just missed those shots. That is not going to be much solace for anybody in the end. The Magic still have to make and finish those shots. And there just is not a lot of space for them to do so.
Orlando is still second in the league averaging 55.9 points in the paint per game. Sacramento is 21st int he league giving up 52.1 points in the paint per game.
The question this game will ask is whether the Magic can score enough points in the paint and make enough free throws to make up for whatever difference there is with the team's three-point shooting.
Orlando right now has to be about its identity and its ability to get downhill to have any chance in these games.