Orlando Magic vs. Sacramento Kings (March 23, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic aim to stay perfect through the midpoint of their eight-game homestand and extend their five-game win streak as they take on the Sacramento Kings in a rematch of their double overtime classic.

The Orlando Magic have ben surging with Gary Harris in the lineup. And his potential absence could have a major cost to the team's momentum.
The Orlando Magic have ben surging with Gary Harris in the lineup. And his potential absence could have a major cost to the team's momentum. / Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

42-28. 38. 84. March 23, 2024. Magic Kings Matchup 03.23.24. 7P. 40-29. Bally Sports Florida, NBC Sports California. Magic by 3.5 (O/U 216)

Tickets: $28-$367 on StubHub
Season Series: Kings 138, Magic 135 in Sacramento on Jan. 3; Tonight in Orlando


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 46-24/36-34 ATS

The Orlando Magic have been rolling at home. They are playing with confidence and climbing the standings. They trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by one game for third in the East. Suddenly this is not just a race for homecourt advantage in the East, it feels like something more.

Orlando has done well to avoid the pressure of the playoff chase. Their approach has been seemingly to focus wholly on themselves. That is how they are fighting their inexperience. And playing a lot of games at home has helped. Orlando has dominated and found its stride.

The tests keep coming though. The Orlando Magic did quick work against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, fighting back after a poor first quarter. It was a good test of the team's resolve and their readiness for playoff pressure.

The Sacramento Kings are certainly a different challenge.

They are not known as a defensive behemoth like the Pelicans are. And Orlando has gotten into track meets with Sacramento before.

But, excluding Thursday's loss to the Washington Wizards, the Sacramento Kings have been much improved on defense. And they still have two All-Star-level players in De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

Chaos always follows this matchup. Even with both teams nursing injuries -- Kevin Huerter (dislocated shoulder) and Trey Lyles (left knee sprain) are OUT while Gary Harris is QUESTIONABLE with a right plantar fascia strain.

Prediction. 106. 84. Magic Kings Predictions 03.23.24. 110. 38

3 Keys to Watch

Starting Surge

We wrote about this earlier this week, but the Orlando Magic's starting group has been playing its best basketball of the season. The Magic are 11-0 in games where Gary Harris starts alongside Jalen Suggs, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter. The group has a +14.6 net rating (114.1/99.5 split) in 191 minutes.

The Magic's main quartet of Suggs, Banchero, Wagner and Carter have a net rating of +8.7 net rating (111.9/103.2 split). That should make it clear how critical Harris is to making the team just that much more better. And why his planta fascia issue at least a little concerning.

Put Caleb Houstan in that lineup, the presumed starter as he was in the second half on Thursday, and the group's net rating dips to -4.3 points per 100 possessions albeit in just 12 minutes. Orlando has found a lot of success in this five-game win streak and during this stretch by having lineup stability. Losing Harris could throw that off.

Defensive Surge

The Sacramento Kings have had struggles finding their groove this season. The Kings are still going to the postseason for the second straight year. But this is not the same as the revelatory 3-seed season they had last year. There are going to be lessons in there for the Orlando magic as they look to grow this year.

The Kings tried to tinker with their formula. They gave up some of their record-setting offense to try to shore up a very weak defense from last year. And that has fallen flat -- the Kings are 12th in offensive rating and 15th in defensive rating.

That defense is certainly improved from last year. And the Kings are much more active on defense of late. Sacramento 11th in the league giving up 111.6 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star Break.

That is a step in the right direction for Sacramento as the team prepares for the Playoffs.

All Eyes on Malik Monk

Malik Monk scored 37 points against the Orlando Magic in the double-overtime victory back in January, one of two 30-point games for the Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner this season. Monk was huge in that game hitting tough shots to match Paolo Banchero and hold off the undermanned Magic.

Monk has had another career season, averaging a career-best 16.0 points per game on 35.8 percent shooting from deep and a 53.7 percent effective field goal percentage. Monk has proven time and again to be a game-changing 3-point shooter off the bench for the Kings and an improving playmaker -- he is up to 5.3 assists per game.

It could not come at a better time.

Monk is set to become a free agent this summer. And everyone has their eyes on him -- including the Magic. And the Kings do not have full Bird Rights and so are limited in what they can pay him while going over the cap. That is an advantage the Magic have.

And Kings fans are feeling it too.

Magic prove themselves 03.23.24. Orlando Magic eager to prove themselves again. dark. Next

Monk has played well against Orlando -- averaging 13.5 points per game and in 14 games -- especially since coming over to Sacramento. And while his free agent future is a bit of a mystery to everyone, he is someone Magic fans are already eyeing for their free agent spending this summer.