New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic NBA expert prediction and odds for Thursday, March 21 (Take the under)

NBA betting preview, prediction and best bet for Thursday's game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Orlando Magic.
Mar 17, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) celebrates with a teammate after a timeout.
Mar 17, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) celebrates with a teammate after a timeout. / Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have won seven of their last eight games and are just one game back of the LA Clippers for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. After beating the Brooklyn Nets in Barclays Center on Tuesday, the New Orleans Pelicans are on the road again Thursday night to face the streaking Orlando Magic.

Orlando is on its own surge, winning 17 of its last 22 games since Jan. 29. The Magic have been great inside the Kia Center this season. Orlando is also in the No. 5 spot in its conference. Can they cover the spread as a short favorite? Here is the betting breakdown of two hot, playoff-bound teams with a best bet. 

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New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic odds, spread and total

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic how to watch

  • Date: Thursday, March 21 
  • Game time: 7 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Kia Center
  • How to watch (TV): NBA TV, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports New Orleans
  • Pelicans record: 42-26
  • Magic record: 41-28 

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic injury report

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Matt Ryan (non-COVID illness): questionable

Orlando Magic 

  • No injuries to report

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic key players to watch

New Orleans Pelicans

Zion Williamson: The former No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, Zion Williamson has been on a tear of late, making double-digit field goals in five consecutive games. Williamson has a pair of 30-point outings in that stretch and is coming off a 28-point, 7-rebound performance in Tuesday’s road win over the Brooklyn Nets. 

Orlando Magic 

Paolo Banchero: Speaking of former No. 1 picks from Duke, Paolo Banchero has led the Magic’s surge as a top-25 scorer in the NBA. Banchero is averaging 22.7 points per game and is shooting 52.2 percent from the field in nine games this month. 

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic prediction and pick

This is a clash of against-the-spread titans between two teams that have been great in this spot. The New Orleans Pelicans have the fifth-best against-the-spread mark in the NBA on the road this season (20-13-1) and are 10-8-1 against the spread as a road favorite.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic have been great at home. The Magic have been fantastic for backers at home this season with the NBA’s best against-the-spread mark (23-9). Instead, look for the total between two great defenses. 

Orlando’s offense is the No. 23 three-point shooting team in the league and the Pelicans are No. 1 in the NBA in defending the perimeter. Orlando is better down low, but the Pelicans can pack the paint with any team they match up with. Both of these defenses are top-10 in the NBA in points in the paint allowed and top-5 in the league in permitting second-chance points. 

New Orleans’ defense has traveled well, ranking fourth in the NBA in scoring defense on the road while Orlando's Kia Center dominance is highlighted by a defense that is No. 3 in scoring defense at home. Take the under. 

Game odds update periodically and are subject to change.