Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards (March 6, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic complete their run of seven straight games against teams with losing records as they take on the Washington Wizards on a back-to-back and a long losing streak.

Jordan Poole has found some spark for the Washington Wizards coming off the bench since the All-Star Break.
Jordan Poole has found some spark for the Washington Wizards coming off the bench since the All-Star Break. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

March 6, 2024. Magic Wizards Matchup 03.06.24. 9-52. 142. 7P. 38. Bally Sports Florida, MNMT. Magic by 7 (O/U 224). 36-26

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Season Series:
Magic 139, Wizards 120 in Orlando on Nov. 29; Magic 130, Wizards 125 in Orlando on Dec. 1; Magic 127, Wizards 119 in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 26; Tonight in Washington, D.C.


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 40-22/32-30 ATS

The Orlando Magic have done the job. They exited the All-Star Break with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and then seven straight games against teams with losing records. They beat the Cavaliers. Then they have gone 5-1 in that seven-game stretch with tonight's game against the Washington Wizards the final game in that run.

Of course, the lone loss came to the Atlanta Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back, albeit a ridiculous one with a Detroit-to-Atlanta trip. Charlotte to Washington is a bit easier.

This is a confident Magic team though. They were still mostly competitive in that loss to the Hawks -- an 18-1 run and an early-game injury to Jonathan Isaac ultimately buried a tired team playing without Paolo Banchero. Orlando should be more prepared for this game -- Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac are OUT with their injury maintenance but Markelle Fultz will play after sitting out Tuesday's game.

The Washington Wizards are coming into this game on a 15-game losing streak and they are coming off a difficult loss to the Utah Jazz to close their West Coast road trip. The first game back from long road trips tends to be difficult too. So a lot is working against them.

If Orlando's defense plays like it did Tuesday night, this should be another blowout. But that has not always been the case on the second night of back-to-backs.

38. Magic Wizards Prediction 03.06.24. 108. 142. Prediction. 115

3 Keys to Watch

It's about pace

The Orlando Magic found themselves Tuesday in a rock fight. The Charlotte Hornets were clogging the lane and playing physically and forcing the Orlando Magic to stay on the perimeter. That they figured was their best chance to win the game.

Orlando was all for it. The Magic doubled down on their defense too and made the game mucky and ugly. The Magic seemed to thrive in that physicality. The game was played at a glacial 91.0 possessions per 48 minutes.

That is not how the Washington Wizards play. The Wizards lead the league in pace at 103.7 possessions per 48 minutes. They have sped up since the trade deadline at 105.7 possessions per 48 minutes.

That does not necessarily translate to scoring. Their offensive rating is worse than the Magic's this year. But that still puts a lot of pressure. The Wizards have scored against the Magic this year. And Orlando's penchant for turnovers only feeds teams that can get out and run and look to score quickly.

The last thing the Magic can do in a game like this is to give away possessions and allow the Wizards to get more of them. The way they control the pace of this game is going to determine whether they win or not.

Poole Party back on?

Jordan Poole has been one of the big flashpoints for the Washington Wizards this season. Some people thought he could lead the league in scoring. The Wizards have embodied a style that encourages him to put up shots -- for better and for worse.

Poole is averaging 16.6 points per game and shooting 40.6 percent from the floor this season. He has a 47.9 percent effective field goal percentage. There have been some wild ups and downs and his shot choices and decision-making have come under constant question.

But there has been a bright spot of late. And it has come with a shift of moving him to the bench.

Poole is averaging 23.4 points per game off the bench. He is shooting 43.6 percent from the floor and 39.1 percent from three on 9.1 attempts per game. He is feasting on supposedly weaker bench units.

The Orlando Magic have a fairly strong bench. But they will not have Jonathan Isaac to help slow down someone like Poole. The Wizards will struggle, but Poole can still have big games that can keep the Wizards hanging around.

Back-To-Back Defense

The Orlando Magic are built on their defense. That is their bread and butter.

They are fourth in the league giving up 111.2 points per 100 possessions. They have been downright stifling since the All-Star Break, giving up 104.5 points per 100 possessions.

If there is one area where the Magic still have to improve though, it is maintaining themselves on the second night of back-to-backs. Orlando is only 3-9 on the second night of back-to-backs, and two of those wins came on the second night of a home-home back-to-back.

Their defense is a big reason why they struggle in these games.

Orlando's defensive rating jumps to 118.2 points allowed per 100 possessions on the second night of back-to-backs. That is hardly the elite defense that has made this season special.

The offense goes further in the tank to 109.7 points per 100 possessions, but that is not nearly as dramatic a change as the team's defense.

Next. 5 questions fourth quarter 03.06.24. 5 questions for the fourth quarter of the Magic's 2024 season. dark

That should be the concern for the Magic on Wednesday night. They have to find their defense playing without Jonathan Isaac and on a back-to-back to hold off a Washington Wizards team that can be dangerous on offense.