Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets

he Orlando Magic get tested again as Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets arrive in town to challenge this young squad.

Orlando Magic (3-8) vs. Brooklyn Nets (7-4)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Bally Sports Florida

Live stream on fuboTV: Start with a 7-day free trial!

2021 Season Series: Nets 122, Magic 115 in Brooklyn on Jan. 16; Nets 129, Magic 92 in Brooklyn on Feb. 25; Magic 121, Nets 113 in Orlando on March 19
2022 Season Series: Tonight in Orlando; Nov. 19 in Brooklyn; Dec. 18 in Brooklyn; March 15 in Orlando

Pace Off. Rtg. Def. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Brooklyn 100.1 104.8 104.6 53.8 19.7 15.4 23.0
Orlando 98.2 102.5 109.7 50.4 27.0 16.9 21.9

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic were feeling really good after their win Sunday over the Utah Jazz. They came from behind to take down one of the league’s best teams and felt like they could take on the world. With how well Cole Anthony played and how other players stepped up, they have every reason to feel that way. This was an important win.

It still took a very focused and energetic effort to get there. And while beating one team at the top of the standings is good, the true test of whether this project will work is beating another team at the top of the standings . . . or just general consistency. That is what the Magic will always be chasing this year — especially right now where the team has not had consecutive wins.

The Brooklyn Nets just lost a five-game winning streak in Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. They got run out of the gym in much the same way the Magic ran the Jazz out in the fourth quarter on Sunday. But Kevin Durant is still deadly as ever and James Harden has a long history of victimizing and torturing the Magic.

One test after the other.

PREDICTION

BROOKLYNNETS

110

ORLANDOMAGIC

103

3 Keys To Watch

What about Wendell?

Everyone was super excited after Sunday’s win over the Utah Jazz because of Cole Anthony’s offensive explosion or R.J. Hampton’s inspired play in the fourth quarter. It was a solid win that the team desperately needed in so many ways.

Nobody seemed to be talking about the crazy good game Wendell Carter had — 22 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. He hit a career-high four 3-pointers in the game too, showing the continued expansion of his game. The rebounds were probably the biggest thing. Carter was doing a good job helping on the glass to eliminate any advantage Rudy Gobert might have caused.

Carter has been solid for the most part. But it is these bursts that show how good he can still be and how much he can help his team by being a solid pivot from the high post and oil to grease the wheels offensively.

Carter has to be an energetic part of the Magic’s offense and especially defense for the team to have success. He will be the first probably to say his energy needs to be more consistent. So you should be able to tell what kind of game the Magic are going to have by how Carter is playing.

Live stream on fuboTV: Start with a 7-day free trial!

Help Harden?

There is a lot being made this year about the NBA’s points of emphasis regarding fouls and drawing fouls around the league. It has taken away some reliable point-scoring weapons for players like Trae Young, James Harden and Damian Lillard. But these have all been welcomed around the league. Both Young and Lillard are getting better at finding their points. Harden has not.

Harden is averaging 18.3 points per game, his lowest since he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder, with a 51.0-percent effective field goal percentage, his lowest since his first season with the Houston Rockets. Harden’s free throw attempts per game have dropped from 7.3 per game to 4.2 per game, his lowest since his second season with the Thunder.

Harden is still adjusting to the new realities of the league. And that has slowed the Nets some. Harden is still averaging 8.5 assists per game. So do not think for a second that his decrease in scoring has lowered his effectiveness.

Iso party

The Brooklyn Nets have the stars and the shooters to spread the floor and let their stars be their stars. They mix their offense with isolations for Kevin Durant on the high post with James Harden’s dribble-heavy offense to attack the basket and collapse the defense.

This kind of isolation play works because Durant and Harden are two of the best players in the world and they have enough shooters to make teams pay for collapsing.

But isolation-based offenses are still shaky. And the Nets are not world-killers on that end this year — the Nets are 20th in the league in offensive rating early on this season. Part of the reason? Brooklyn is very isolation-heavy.

According to NBA.com’s tracking stats, the Nets run the most isolations per game at 13.3 per game. That is one possession per game more than the next team in the rankings. More surprisingly, Brooklyn scores 1.06 points per possession on isolation plays, second in the league.

Orlando is going to have to do a good job making life hard for Durant and Harden and finding a rhythm even as Brooklyn looks to isolate and slow the game down.

The Magic, for the record, run the fewest isolations at 3.5 per game with 0.82 points per possession. This is not an isolation team.

By rajib