Orlando Magic vs. Chicago Bulls (April 7, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic make a quick stop at home after their disappointing loss Friday as they prepare for the final week of the regular season against the Chicago Bulls.
The Orlando Magic face off with the Chicago Bulls in a game that feels close to a must-win as the final week fo the regular season begins.
The Orlando Magic face off with the Chicago Bulls in a game that feels close to a must-win as the final week fo the regular season begins. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

38. 6P. April 7, 2024. 45-32. Magic Bulls Matchup 04.07.24. Magic by 7.5 (O/U 211). 37-40. 24. Bally Sports Florida, NBC Sports Chicago

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Season Series:
Magic 96, Bulls 94 in Chicago on Nov. 15; Magic 103, Bulls 97 in Chicago on Nov. 17; Magic 114, Bulls 108 in Orlando on Feb. 10; Tonight in Orlando


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 50-27/38-39 ATS

The Orlando Magic are learning very quickly that there is no such thing as a gimme in this stage of the season. Not that Orlando has very many games left against teams outside of the Playoff picture (really just Tuesday's game in Houston) or games against teams with records worse than .500 (just tonight's game).

The Magic have to show their attention to detail and intensity from here on out. There is no letting off the gas pedal if there ever was. The Magic got burned by that Friday in Charlotte.

That is the big question for the Magic as they return home for a quick pit stop at the Kia Center. Will the Magic absorb the lesson and message from Friday's loss and play with the fire and intensity they need to prepare themselves for the Playoffs?

The Magic as a team did not seem worried about finding that reserve. They have responded in every way any time they have faced these questions -- including Wednesday's win in New Orleans. There is no reason to think Friday was an anomaly.

The Bulls though are going to be a challenge. They are a tough defensive team and capable of winning on any given night with DeMar DeRozan putting up an All-Star-type season. The Bulls are fighting for their lives in the 9/10 game, trying to ensure they get that game at United Center.

Prediction. 102. 24. Magic Bulls Prediction 04.07.24. 107. 38

3 Keys to Watch

Watch the First Quarter

The Orlando Magic can certainly blame a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter after they cut the deficit to four as a big reason for the loss. But they understand the reason they lost to the Charlotte Hornets was because they did not come out ready to play. They got blitzed in the first quarter, falling behind by 15 at the end of the quarter.

First quarters have been a problem all year. And while the Magic have not gotten beat that badly in the first quarter, it is a continued issue for the team to resolve. Orlando has lost seven of the past eight first quarters. It is simply tough to play from behind and rely on the bench to close the gap and then destroy teams in the third quarter -- that is when the Magic's starting lineup really puts the hammer down.

The Magic, as a team, have a -3.0 net rating in their first quarters (107.7/110.7 offensive/defensive rating). Since the All-Star Break, they are +4.2 (107.3/103.1). The trend is that Orlando starts off really slow offensively. So if the defense is not at an elite level from the start, the team is going to be in trouble.

That finally bit them in the worst way Friday night.

Big-Time DeMar

The Orlando Magic have three wins over the Chicago Bulls this season. But each game has followed the same pattern for the most part. The Magic take a big lead in the first half, using their depth to overwhelm the Bulls. Then Chicago slowly works its way back into the game and tries to set up DeMar DeRozan with a chance to win late.

The Magic got buzzer-beaters from Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner in the pair of games in Chicago in November. And then survived in overtime in the game at Kia Center. DeRozan figured to be a key piece in all of those games.

DeRozan is averaging 25.5 points per game against the Magic this season, even hitting 40.0 percent of his threes (2 for 5) in the three games against the Magic. DeRozan will have a lot of attention paid to him this time around too.

The last thing the Magic want is a close game again. DeRozan has been one of the most clutch players in the league with 177 points in clutch situations, the second-most in the league (the Bulls are 24-15 in clutch situations when DeRozan plays).

DeRozan is going to be a big part of the defensive gameplan.

Eye on Turnovers

The big thing for the Orlando Magic will always be turnovers. As much as the team has to win the paint -- and they do -- turnovers are a big factor in determining whether the Magic are going to have a good night offensively or not.

Orlando has struggled to control its turnovers all year. The team ranks 26th in the league in turnover rate this season with a 15.1 percent turnover rate. That was a big factor in the Orlando Magic's struggles early against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. They were just sloppy with the ball.

These turnovers have not killed Orlando this year. Teams score only 16.5 points of turnovers per game even with that number of turnovers (the team's slower pace helps keep that number down too).

But this is not a problem that has corrected itself after the All-Star Break.

Despite going 15-7, Orlando has a 16.0 percent turnover rate, the third-worst in the league since the All-Star Break. The Magic had a lot of issues that came to roost in the game Friday. That should be the wake-up call to start cleaning things up.

Orlando Magic's bench keeps up team's defensive intensity. dark. Next. Magic Bench D Intensity 04.07.24

The biggest issue the Magic have to face entering the Playoffs is consistency and focus. That is what you expect from a young team. You just do not expect them to compete for the 3- or 4-seed.