Our Record: 10-7/10-7 ATS
Joe Ingles would be the first one to admit it: The Orlando Magic got a bit of a wake-up call in Sunday's game against the Charlotte Hornets -- still a 130-117 win.
Coming off the big win Friday and riding on a six-game win streak, the Magic had something of a letdown against the Hornets. They were slow in the first quarter and had the sixth-worst defensive game of the season (still 110.4 points allowed per 100 possessions). It turned into too much of a track meet and a foul fest at times. But Orlando did enough to come out on top.
Maybe that was the product of eight games in 13 days for this team. There were definitely some tired legs and they could use the last two days off.
But it also serves as something of a warning shot. The Orlando Magic have to be as focused for teams like the Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards as they are for teams like the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics. These teams are putting a different focus on the Magic.
So credit to the Magic then for having the poise to bounce back and still get the win. That is a new experience for them. And now with a few days off, perhaps the Magic are better prepared for a game like this one.
3 Keys to Watch
Orlando's offensive surge
The Orlando Magic are now 16th in the league in offensive rating at 112.6 points per 100 possessions. REPEAT: The Orlando Magic are now 16th in the league in offensive rating. This is not a drill.
Or maybe it is. The Magic have been experiencing something of an offensive surge during this seven-game win streak. They are scoring 116.5 points per 100 possessions (12th among teams' last seven games). Orlando has a 118.4 offensive rating in home games (that includes the game in Mexico City).
The Magic are scoring right now. Things are flowing as the team is getting out in transition better and is hitting enough shots to make their defense really impactful. The team is flowing. The question will be whether they can take this on the road.
That certainly makes this game a bit easier if the Magic can defend at the level they are accustomed to. The Washington Wizards are a dangerous scoring team. But if the Magic are scoring, they will be tough to outscore with a team as poor defensively as the Wizards are.
Kyle Kuzma everywhere
Kyle Kuzma has probably inarguably been the best player for the Washington Wizards and he has taken advantage of the opportunity with this Wizards team. Kuzma is averaging a career-high 23.4 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game and a career-high 4.8 assists per game. He has had to do it all with the inconsistencies elsewhere on the roster.
Kuzma is doing it efficiently too. He is making 47.1 percent of his shots overall and 36.3 percent from three. Those are very strong numbers that only the team's record is preventing from getting serious notice throughout the league.
The Wizards' starting group has struggled obviously, especially defensively. The Wizards have a -13.3 net rating with Kuzma on the floor with a woeful 108.9 offensive rating and even worse 122.1 defensive rating.
Is that on Kuzma? Are his stats just empty stats? The efficiency suggests they are not. Everything else suggests they are. And Twitter videos suggest the problem is actually Jordan Poole.
The point being the Wizards have some players and have some guys who can make an impact. The Magic cannot sleep on this team.
Battle of the Benches
One advantage the Orlando Magic have had over everyone is they dominate teams off the bench. Orlando is second in the league averaging 46.1 points per game off the bench. That has been a superpower for this team. Their depth just eats everyone.
Orlando's bench unit of Cole Anthony, Gary Harris, Joe Ingles, Jonathan Isaac and Moe Wagner has a net rating of +7.6 points per 100 possessions (108.4/100.8 offensive/defensive rating split). Throw Franz Wagner in for Gary Harris and the team has a +14.5 net rating (115.5/101.0).
Isaac is QUESTIONABLE tonight and a game-time decision with his sore left ankle. Being without him could hurt the Magic. Orlando's most-used bench group without Jonathan Isaac has Franz Wagner in for Isaac and Gary Harris in and has a -8.1 net rating (105.7/113.7) in 25 minutes.
That could be a big problem tonight.
The Wizards have the third-most points off the bench per game this year at 43.4 per game. They score a lot off the bench with Danilo Gallinari giving them some veteran presence off the bench and 8.2 points per game and solid veterans like Landry Shamet and youngsters like Corey Kispert and Bilal Coulibaly.
The Wizards' heavy bench unit of Landry Shamet, Corey Kispert, Deni Avidja, Danilo Gallinari and Bilal Coulibaly has a +51.4 net rating (125.5/74.1) in 24 minutes together. There are some stinker lineups for this team for sure (and plenty of defensive problems). But this Wizards team can throw some depth and energy at teams if they are not careful.
This is not a game where the Magic will have many of the advantages they are used to and will have to play well and focused for 48 minutes.