Orlando Magic vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (January 9, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic aim to test themselves against one of the best young teams in the league as they take on their sister franchise in the Minnesota Timberwolves in a major test for their interior play.
Paolo Banchero and Anthony Edwards have turned into two of the best young stars in the league after their incredible showing in the FIBA World Cup.
Paolo Banchero and Anthony Edwards have turned into two of the best young stars in the league after their incredible showing in the FIBA World Cup. / David Berding/GettyImages

38. 7P. 86. Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports North. Jan. 9, 2024. Magic TWolves Matchup 01.09.24. 21-15. Wolves by 5 (O/U 218.5). 25-10

Tickets: $47-$7,244 on StubHub
Season Series: Tonight in Orlando; Feb. 2 in Minneapolis


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 24-12/20-16 ATS

The Orlando Magic can look at their sister franchise for something of a roadmap of how they should develop.

The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Anthony Edwards with the first overall pick and watched him blossom in his first two years as they turned into a Play-In team and played meaningful basketball games reaching the first round. Then came the big trade for Rudy Gobert and another run through the Play-In Tournament to reach the playoffs.

All in the process, Edwards became a star -- leading Team USA this summer at the FIBA World Cup. And it has come together to turn the Wolves into one of the best teams in the league this year -- dominant defensively and dynamic enough offensively to get by.

The Wolves have been outstanding this year, sitting atop the Western Conference at 25-10. They are the young team everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop or is just too young and inexperienced to take seriously as a title contender.

Minnesota is in a little bit of a rut right now though. They have lost three of their last four games and have scored only 110 points per game in their last five games with just one outlier game of 122 points as their only game scoring more than the average.

Orlando is capable of stealing a win if their hot shooting continues. But they will have to find a way to get into the paint to do so.

Magic TWolves 01.09.24. 109. 38. Prediction. 112. 86

3 Keys To Watch

Paolo & Ant: Team USA Rising Stars

Team USA was not so much of a launching point for Anthony Edwards. It was confirmation of his rising stardom already.

Edward had that breakthrough in the playoffs last year, averaging 31.6 points per game in the five-game series with the Denver Nuggets. He was the driving force for Team USA in their fourth-place finish at the FIBA World Cup.

Edwards has carried that forward in averaging 26.8 points per game with a 52.8-percent effective field goal percentage this season. Edwards has been fantastic and has looked like the future of the league. The Timberwolves have arrived earlier into contention than perhaps even they thought they might.

Although they still have a lot to prove.

The Orlando Magic and Paolo Banchero are seemingly following a similar path. They are waiting for the brekathrough into the postseason so their own young star can take that leap forward on a bigger stage.

Banchero gained a lot from his Team USA experience. He has parlayed that into a killer season so far.

Banchero is averaging 23.1 points per game this season on increased efficiency with a 50.5 percent effective field goal percentage. Since Dec. 1 (the last 18 games), he is averaging 27.1 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting. And that is with 8.1 rebounds per game and 5.2 assists per game.

This is a superstar run from Banchero. He has scored at least 25 points in his last six games. That is just not something the Magic have seen. They truly have one of the best young stars in the league.

The Gobert Factor

A lot of the talk last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves was centered on the odd fit of Rudy Gobert with Karl-Anthony Townes. Considering how much Minnesota gave up to acquire Gobert, it felt like an odd fit as Minnesota struggled last year.

What they needed was time to figure it out -- and some health on top of that. The Wolves have found their groove and Gobert has found his footing to help the Timberwolves become a better defensive team.

The Wolves as a team give up 46.9 points in the paint per game, seventh-best in the league. As a team, they give up 60.0 percent shooting at the rim according to data from Second Spectrum. Gobert gives up 50.5 percent shooting at the rim. That is an outstanding number.

Gobert has turned the Wolves into a defensive juggernaut and he is a problem everyone has to figure out.

Hot Shooting Continues

The Orlando Magic are typically a team that wants to attack the paint and make up for everything in the paint and at the foul line. The Magic are fifth in the league in points in the paint at 54.2 points in the paint per game.

That is a number that is slipping though because suddenly the Magic are scorching from three.

In four games in January, the Magic are scoring the second-fewest points in the paint per game at 39.5 points in the paint per game. But they are shooting an outstanding 46.5 percent from three and making 18.3 attempts per game. Their shooting is way up and it is a surprising new dimension to the attack.

Is that sustainable for Orlando? Probably not.

At some point, the Magic have to get back to dominating the paint. They are riding this hot wave of shooting as long as they can -- and of note, their best quarter scoring in the paint Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks came in the third quarter when they attacked the paint more.

Next. Fultz Back 01.09.24. It's good to have Markelle Fultz back, he still has a long to go. dark

But the shooting is keeping this team afloat right now. They will need it considering how strong the Wolves can be in the paint.