Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors (March 15, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic make their final trip out of Orlando for a few weeks as they take on a struggling Toronto Raptors team in the first of two straight games with the Raptors.

The Orlando Magic see the Toronto Raptors for the first time since November. They are a different team as they focus on their young players to end the season.
The Orlando Magic see the Toronto Raptors for the first time since November. They are a different team as they focus on their young players to end the season. / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

38. Magic Raptors Matchup 03.15.24. 81. Magic by 8.5 (O/U 217). 7:30P. 38-28. Bally Sports Florida, TSN. March 15, 2024. 23-43

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Season Series:
Magic 126, Raptors 107 in Orlando on Nov. 21; Tonight in Toronto; March 17 in Orlando


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 42-24/33-33 ATS

The Orlando Magic hit the road for the final time until April 2 for their pair of games in New Orleans (April 3) and Charlotte (April 5). The eight-game homestand is on the horizon. And everyone is feeling the opportunity for the Magic to pick up steam and solidify their playoff spot.

First, they have to keep taking care of business against the Lottery teams on their schedule -- three more against Lottery teams until the New Orleans Pelicans come to town on Thursday.

Orlando has done that well this year. The Orlando Magic are 23-6 against teams with a record below .500 this year -- three losses to the Atlanta Hawks, two to the Brooklyn Nets and one to the Memphis Grizzlies. That is an incredible run.

The Magic though are still going to look to play better and play to their standard as much as they want to win these games. They have gotten away with a lot in the process because the margin for error is so wide. The team needs to sharpen its defense and maintain some pace on offense.

But Orlando is winning these games. The team is healthy and facing a Toronto Raptors team that is down a lot of key players -- Scottie Barnes is OUT with a left-hand fracture, RJ Barrett is OUT for personal reasons (his brother passed away this week) and Jakob Poeltl is OUT with a torn ligament in his left hand.

113. 38. Magic Raptors Prediction 03.15.24. 107. 81. Prediction

3 Keys To Watch

Pace and Passing

So much of the last three games have centered on pace. Not the number of possessions the team plays at -- the Orlando Magic are among the slowest teams in terms of possession count -- but the speed at which the team is executing and running its offense.

The Orlando Magic were notably slow in the losses to the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, often pressured into starting their attacks on the paint later and later in the shot clock. The team admitted it came out a bit lax in the second half of the loss to the Pacers.

Overall, the Magic had paces (possessions per 48 minutes this time) of 86 and 99 possessions per 48 minutes in the losses. While the pace dropped to 93.5 against the Brooklyn Nets, the ball movement was significantly better with the team posting 44 potential assists in the game (compared to 27 against the Knicks and 41 against the Pacers).

The Toronto Raptors will look to push the pace with Immanuel Quickly at point guard. They have always been a team that thrives on creating points off turnovers. They still lead the league with 19.0 fast-break points per game.

Orlando has to play fast but avoid turnovers and giving Toronto a chance to get out on the break.

Opportunities Abound

The Toronto Raptors are the walking wounded right now with several starters out of the lineup. Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl have suffered season-ending injuries. RJ Barrett is out to mourn the death of his brother. Gary Trent is QUESTIONABLE with a right groin strain.

The Raptors are, like many teams with their record at this time of year, exploring what their young players can do. They have to get a sense of what will work and what will help them moving forward.

The Raptors' young players though are struggling since Barnes' injury on March 1.

Gradey Dick is the highest-scoring newcomer on the team since then with 9.8 points per game on 32.4 percent shooting from deep -- although he had 17 in the loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier this week.

There are a lot of players who have not stepped up to the challenge. And while Immanuel Quickley is scoring a lot -- 22.8 pointe per game in 37.5 minutes per game in his last five outings -- there is very little support. And Barrett's absence only makes that supporting cast more important.

Isaac at Center

Jonathan Isaac was told Tuesday that the Orlando Magic would experiment with him some as the backup center. So there he was Wednesday entering the game earlier than usual in the first quarter for Wendell Carter and playing the backup center role.

In roughly 15 minutes, the Magic were +13 with Isaac on the floor at center. That includes going +7 in the first-quarter stint with the starting group for nearly five minutes. There was at least some sense that the idea worked.

Isaac has been extremely impactful for the Magic all year long. The team has a +10.9 net rating when he is on the floor including a 101.7 defensive rating. He is still a dominant defensive player and if not for his games played and minutes, he might be in line to join Jalen Suggs on the All-Defensive team.

Next. Stock Rising Falling 03.14.24. 3 players whose stock is rising, 3 falling ahead of Playoffs. dark

Orlando figures to continue this experiment for the time being.