Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets (February 27, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic look to get back on track and start a three-game homestand against a Brooklyn Nets team that has worked them in two previous outings. A lot has changed since then.

The Orlando Magic will have a tough challenge attacking the paint with Nic Claxton defending the paint.
The Orlando Magic will have a tough challenge attacking the paint with Nic Claxton defending the paint. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

22-35. Bally Sports Florida, YES. Feb. 27, 2024. Magic Nets Matchup 02.27.24. Magic by 8.5 (O/U 213). 7P. 147. 32-26. 38

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Season Series:
Nets 124, Magic 104 in Brooklyn on Nov. 14; Nets 129, Magic 101 in Brooklyn on Dec. 2; Tonight in Orlando; March 13 in Orlando


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 36-22/30-28 ATS

We entered the Orlando Magic's game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday understanding that it was a tough spot for them in the schedule A flight from Detroit to Atlanta with 23 hours between tip-offs is enough to challenge even the best teams. The Magic are not one to make excuses, and they understood that despite that disadvantage they should have played better.

The shoe is on the other foot now. Despite the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 111-86 last night, the Nets will face their own difficult travel schedule going from an 8 p.m. start in Memphis to a 7 p.m. start in Orlando.

And the Nets have been struggling of late, losing eight of their last 11. They have not won consecutive games since then. Brooklyn has eclipsed 100 points in just three of the last seven games. Things have flipped on the Nets in a major way.

A poor offensive team on the second night of back-to-back is usually bad news -- just ask the Magic. And Wendell Carter said the team remembers the two big losses they took to the Nets earlier in the season -- the In-Season Tournament loss that cost the Magic the chance to advance and the win-streak-busting loss (that came on the second night of a back-to-back with Orlando-to-Brooklyn travel).

The Magic should take care of business here even if Paolo Banchero ends up sitting out a second game recovering from his illness.

38. Prediction. 103. 147. Magic Nets Prediction 02.27.24. 115

3 Keys To Watch

3-Point Defense

The Orlando Magic's two losses to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season had one thing in common: The Nets hit a ton of 3-pointers. Brooklyn went 19 for 39 in the first game during the In-Season Tournament and then 14 for 34 in the second game. The Magic were just constantly caught behind by 3-point shooting.

That has been a constant issue throughout the season. Even in the Magic's current 3-point surge -- the team is hitting 40.1 percent of their threes in the last 11 games -- 3-point defense is still the big thing. It will still be one of the decisive parts of this game.

The Magic are giving up 36.0 percent shooting from deep this year (10th in the league) and give up 11.7 3-pointers per game (fifth in the league). The Magic's 3-point defense is typically very good.

And right now, the Nets' 3-point shooting is very bad. Brooklyn is seventh in the league averaging 13.7 3-pointers per game and 17th at 36.4 percent. But since the trade deadline, when the Nets remade part of their roster, are 21st in makes with 12.0 per game and 19th in percentage at 35.4 percent.

Three-point shooting is partially luck. But defending the 3-point line is the key for the Magic.

The Interior Battle

A lot of Orlando Magic fans have at least begun to ponder what the future at center looks like for the team. Wendell Carter has become something of a Rorschach Test. Either people buy into his shooting and paint defense as good things or they look at his size, lack of explosiveness and shot-blocking as something holding the team back.

There have been more than a few Orlando Magic fans looking at Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton as a potential option this summer. Claxton is a free agent this summer.

And he has been a strong defensive presence this year. He is averaging 12.0 points per game, 10.0 rebounds per game and 2.2 blocks per game. He had 10 points and three blocks in the win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.

Claxton gives up 50.5 percent shooting at the rim on 7.2 attempts per game this season. Carter is at 60.5 percent on 4.6 attempts per game. Claxton is an excellent rim protector and shot blocker.

At least for now, the Magic are going to have to be careful and smart when they attack the basket and score in the paint.

The Paolo Difference

Paolo Banchero's absence was felt in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. The team had to reshuffle its roles and lineups without him. And the team had to learn a lot of things on the fly. Franz Wagner had a solid game, but not the star-making game that they have come to rely on from Paolo Banchero.

Banchero is not a perfect player (yet) by any means. He scores a lot of points, but can still be a bit inefficient. And the numbers do not reflect Banchero's attention and impact.

The Magic have a -1.4 net rating with Banchero on the floor (112.2/113.6 offensive/defensive rating split). With Banchero off the floor, the Magic have a +6.5 net rating (111.5/105.0). A lot of that is the split between a starting group that has been solid, but not perfect, and a bench that has typically been strong.

In the last 11 games though, the Magic have a +0.5 net rating with Banchero in the game (116.8/116.3). They have a +4.4 net rating (108.4/104.0).

Jonathan Isaac Injury 02.27.24. Orlando Magic thankful for good news about Jonathan Isaac. dark. Next

These numbers probably show the limitations of looking on/off-court numbers. Banchero still attracts a lot of attention and that is his ultimate value more than his numbers. That is what the Magic missed Sunday.