Our Record: 14-7/11-10 ATS
The Orlando Magic need a "get-right" game. They need a game where they can focus on themselves and get themselves right after five games that are just not up to the standard they can play to.
The Detroit Pistons are that team because they are on an 18-game losing streak and do not seem to have their direction set. The Orlando Magic are back home and should be able to play with the same margin for error they played with in their wins last week against the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards.
But this cannot be about that margin for error. The Magic need to put to practice all the things they talked about in practice this week and get back to their defensive standard.
For the Magic, it is not important by how much they eventually win by against the Pistons (a loss to this Pistons team would be unimaginable even with Jonathan Isaac and Jalen Suggs QUESTIONABLE for the game with ankle injuries). It is more important the Magic play their style and their identity.
It is the way that they play and win that matters. They cannot repeat even what they did in wins last week.
3 Keys to Watch
Paolo Banchero really said it best about the Orlando Magic's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team at least split even with the Cavs except for their first quarter -- a 37-20 defeat that saw the Cavs hit seven of their 14 total 3-pointers for the game. The same thing happened in Saturday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets when the Nets scored 43 points and led by 21 points after one quarter.
The Magic have to start playing better from the start and they need to put their foot down early in this one. It has been a growing problem for the team.
Orlando started the year killing it in the first quarters, posting a +12.7 net rating in the first quarter (111.0 offensive rating/98.3 defensive rating). But in the last five games, the Magic have a -35.9 net rating (100.8/136.7). Obviously, there are two big outliers in that case.
But even in last week's games against the Charlotte Hornets and Washinton Wizards, they sat at -10.5 points per 100 possessions with a 125.0 defensive rating. To say the least, the Magic lost a lot of the early defensive push the team had early in the season to start games.
Orlando needs to come out with a strong start to reverse some of the trends the team is facing right now.
The Jaden Ivey mystery
The Detroit Pistons are a bit of a mess. There is no denying this. They just got a veteran in Bojan Bogdanovic back from injury that should help. Cade Cunningham is putting up big counting stats, but his 4.4 turnovers per game have been concerning as he plays in lineups without spacing.
Jalen Duren still looks like a gifted young player. But he is OUT for Friday's game with a left ankle sprain. The other veteran in Monte Morris is also OUT with right quadriceps strain.
The biggest mystery for this Pistons team is what they are doing with sophomore Jaden Ivey. You may recall Ivey torched the Magic last February for 25 points and nearly stole that game at the Amway Center.
This year, the Pistons cannot seem to figure out what the right role is for him or how to make him fit with this roster. Ivey has appeared in only 17 games with just six starts. He is averaging 11.4 points per game.
His inconsistent minutes are a big part of that equation. He is back to play regular minutes again, but he has only 16 total points in the last two games. He just has not had any consistent time and it is not exactly clear why. But he remains a big wild card for this Pistons team.
The Home/Road Difference
The Orlando Magic have started showing their youth in some big ways lately. The Magic won every game on their six-game homestand as a big boost to their nine-game win streak. And that continued a trend that is typical of young teams.
Young teams play significantly better at home than they do on the road. That has been the case for the Magic.
At home -- including the game in Mexico City -- Orlando has an overall net rating of +11.5 points per 100 possessions with a 120.3 offensive rating and 108.9 defensive rating. The Magic are 9-1 at the Amway Center in total.
Compare that to the Magic's road rating -- -5.0 net rating with a 105.9 offensive rating and 110.8 defensive rating. The offensive drop off is the biggest thing to note from home to road. That is expected with any team, but especially a young team like the Magic.
Orlando is hoping that it can recapture itself a bit at home and build on its big homestand from last week.