WATCH MAGIC-WIZARDS ON FUBO TV
FOLLOW LIVE: @OMAGICDAILY
Tickets: $17-$251 on StubHub
Season Series: Magic 139, Wizards 120 in Orlando on Nov. 29; Tonight in Orlando; Dec. 26 in Washington, D.C.; March 6 in Washington, D.C.
Our Record: 11-7/10-8 ATS
The Orlando Magic have liked having these repeat matchups and mini-series during the season. For this young team, it is a chance to practice something that kind of simulates a playoff series. The team can at least feel how to make adjustments and how teams adjust to them.
The Washington Wizards are decidedly not a playoff team. As Kyle Kuzma said after Wednesday's loss at the Amway Center, they could not defend a stop sign. Indeed, the Magic did not see a stop sign as they paraded to the basket and got to the rim.
Still, Orlando saw plenty in the game it needs to work on. Even the team acknowledged that despite the win. The defense was loose, only strengthening in some critical moments to build the lead and create the margin. There were a ton of turnovers that kept Washington in the game.
That could be a good or a bad thing. But the Magic are rolling right now and unless the team really lets go of the rope, this is not a Wizards team to stop them.
3 Keys to Watch
Playing with Pace
The Orlando Magic's offense is surging. If you would believe it, Orlando now has an offense in the top half of the league. Yes, that is right, the Magic are 15th in the league with a 113.9 offensive rating. It is indeed a crazy world we are living with.
A big reason for this sudden surge -- the Magic have a 118.7 offensive rating during the win streak -- is the team's improvement in picking up its pace and playing faster and more confidently.
Certainly, pace has something to do with the teams the Magic are playing -- although during this win streak, the Magic have played only two games against teams in the top 10 in pace. But Orlando has put more emphasis on picking up the tempo and upping the team's possession count.
The Magic are 14th in pace at 100.3 possessions per 48 minutes. That number has jumped to 101.1 during the team's win streak. Adding to this then, the Magic are finally converting off of that pace. Orlando is averaging 12.9 fast-break points per game this season. That has jumped to 14.5 per game during the win streak.
On a more granular level, the Magic are averaging 1.12 points per possession in transition according ot NBA.com's tracking data after struggling with this earlier in the season. This team is ready to run.
Breaking the Defense
A big part of that story for the Orlando Magic, at least for Wednesday's game, is the Washington Wizards are struggling defensively. Kyle Kuzma was critical of the team's defensive effort in Wednesday's game. And that has been a continuing problem for the Wizards.
Washington ranks 28th in the league giving up 120.1 points per 100 possessions. Orlando scored 133.7 points per 100 possessions in the game Wednesday. The Magic offense is rolling, but that was another thing entirely.
Washington just looked just disorganized and unsure of its switching principles or schemes. It helped that the Magic made 60 percent of their shots. But they also dished out a season-high 34 assists. There were a lot of feet-set, open shots the Magic took.
The Wizards' defense has been consistently this bad. They have given up at least 120 points per 100 possessions in six of the last eight games. One of those games was Monday's win over the Detroit Pistons (where the Washington Wizards gave up just 99.1 points per 100 possessions) and the other was a loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
That is the competition the Wizards are succeeding against. Orlando is not that level.
The Orlando Magic are on their win streak and we all know it will not last forever. There are starting to be a few cracks appearing in the foundation as the Magic are sitting happy with this win streak. Even the team can recognize some of this with the team's inconsistent defense in the last two games.
The biggest area to start is the starting lineup has lost some of its Magic.
Orlando's starting group of Anthony Black, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Goga Bitadze has a first-quarter net rating of -7.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (100.0/107.1 split). During the win streak it is -4.9 points per 100 possessions.
That is a minor concern right now because the Magic's bench is so dominant. The Magic are not likely looking to make a lineup change. But after dominating the first quarter early in the season, the team is struggling to get off to good starts right now. The team has had to make up early ground in the wins over the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards.
It is something to keep an eye on for now. At some point, the team is going to pay for this.