Orlando Magic vs. Utah Jazz (February 29, 2024): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Orlando Magic continue their homestand as they look to build on a season-best defensive effort against the Brooklyn Nets and carry it forward against another struggling team outside the postseason hunt.

The Orlando Magic face off with the Utah Jazz as they aim to keep their win streak going and keep the Jazz reeling.
The Orlando Magic face off with the Utah Jazz as they aim to keep their win streak going and keep the Jazz reeling. / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

27-32. 118. 33-26. 38. Magic by 6 (O/U 225.5). 7P. Bally Sports Florida, KJZZ. Feb. 29, 2024. Magic Jazz Matchup 02.29.24

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Season Series:
Magic 115, Jazz 113 in Salt Lake City on Nov. 2; Tonight in Orlando


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OMD Prediction

Our Record: 37-22/31-28 ATS

The Orlando Magic are still in their groove. They have won nine of their past 12 games and have been playing well, especially on offense which has picked up the slack for a defense that has been more inconsistent but still mostly solid.

The Magic have played better at home in the Kia Center. Their offense takes an even bigger leap there. And the team has taken care of its business against teams under .500. Orlando knows it is in a critical stretch to bank up wins as the Eastern Conference gets tighter.

The Utah Jazz are just as desperate for wins though. They are a high-powered offensive team that can spread the floor and pressure the rim with several drivers throughout the lineup. But they are struggling, winning only three of their last 12 games.

The Jazz are still a potent team offensively and it will be a challenge for the Magic's offense. Especially with Paolo Banchero's status for the game still uncertain -- he will be a game-time decision as he recovers from an illness that slowed him down last week.

118. 38. Prediction. 113. 118. Magic Jazz Prediction 02.29.24

3 Keys to Watch

Home Cooking

The Orlando Magic turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season in their win over the Brooklyn Nets. It did not require the strongest offensive outing. But it should still be noted how good the Magic were on offense. Through three quarters (the fourth quarter was pro forma), the Magic had a 123.9 offensive rating.

That is some killer offense. The Magic were getting whatever they wanted.

That has increasingly been what the Magic have looked like lately too. Orlando's offense is having its moment.

The Magic are scoring 116.3 points per 100 possessions in the last 10 games. They are shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc -- the third-best mark in the league during the last 10 games!

Orlando has always been better at home too. The Magic have a 116.4 offensive rating inside the Kia Center. This team is different offensively on the home floor. And it has led to a lot of success in protecting the home court.

The Jazz's Fall

While the race in the Eastern Conference playoffs is very tight, even down to 10th, the Western Conference feels relatively settled. Yes, there is still a lot of shuffling going on among the top teams. But the 10 teams that will make the postseason field feels set.

That is because the Utah Jazz, trailing the 10th-place Golden State Warriors by four games, have fallen hard since their big six-game winning streak in January. Utah has won only five of 17 games since then.

Their offensive rating has held steady from a season average of 115.3 points per 100 possessions to 116.7. But they are giving up 123.1 points per 100 possessions in those games. And they are even worse on the road.

The Jazz are still a dangerous offensive team. But their defense has slipped as the trade deadline sent out some veterans who stabilized a young team that plays better at home at the Delta Center.

Against Rim Protection

Walker Kessler is officially listed as QUESTIONABLE for Thursday's game with a right foot sprain. But everyone in the league understands that the sophomore is one of the league's best shot-blockers. He averages 2.7 blocks per game even while largely coming off the bench.

If the Utah Jazz have one advantage it is this rim protection. And that is always a challenge the Orlando Magic have to face.

The Magic want to live in the paint. So they have to be smart going up against the best rim protectors in the league.

This is something they have done successfully though. The Orlando Magic tallied 58 points in the paint against Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 8 and 62 against the Spurs on Jan. 31. They hit 50 points in the paint against Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder. They scored 56 against Nicolas Claxton and the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Next. Playing by committee 02.29.24. Playin by committee is key to Orlando Magic's success. dark

The Magic know how to attack shot blockers and are good at still being aggressive getting downhill. They will need to do that again to be successful against the Jazz.