The Utah Jazz picked up their second win of the season in blowout fashion last night, and now they have the quick turnaround of a back-to-back. Their opponent tonight will be an Orlando Magic team coming off two straight losses in Los Angeles. With Utah coming off a game yesterday, I’ll break down why I like Orlando to come in with fresh legs and build a lead by halftime.
Following their 2-0 start to the season, the Orlando Magic struggled in their first back-to-back of the year. While it is still very early in the season, Orlando has shown their strength as a unit seems to be defense, as the offensive side of things are still a work in progress. Through four games, the Magic are averaging just 105.8 points per game and rank 22nd in the league in effective field goal percentage.
While those numbers have led to them being ranked 21st in offensive efficiency rating, Orlando has shown a lot of promise on the defensive end, ranking 3rd in defensive rating. Opponents are averaging 101.8 points per game on the young Magic, the second-lowest average in the league.
Until they find a rhythm offensively, Orlando will likely rely heavily on their defense to win and control games. Entering tonight’s matchup, the Magic are 26th in pace in an attempt to grind down opponents, which sets up an intriguing style of play battle today with the Jazz since Utah is operating at the 10th-highest pace in the league.
Not only is their pace of play style different, but the two teams have opposite strengths. Coming off their 133-109 win over the Grizzlies last night, Utah is ranked 12th in offensive rating and 7th in three-point percentage. While they may hold the offensive advantage tonight, it is clear they are the weaker defensive unit by far, with a defensive rating of 115.8, which is 27th in the league.
If they want to sweep this back-to-back, defense will have to be critical for Utah, as that’s what stopped them from sweeping their first one. On night two of their first back-to-back, the Jazz let up 126 points while allowing their opponent to shoot 53% from the field.
The Orlando Magic are currently priced at (-105) on the first half moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Despite their 2-2 record, the Magic are 4-0 SU in the first half this season, while the Jazz are 2-3 SU in the first half, with one of those losses coming in the second game of their first back-to-back.
Utah has only faced one team that ranks within the top five in defensive rating this year, and they ended the first half of that game losing 66-50. The Magic are holding opponents to an average of 49.8 points per game in the first half, which is good for the 5th best average in the league. Opponents are shooting 32.1% from three against Orlando in the first half, which could significantly affect the Jazz offense since they get 39.7% of their first-half points from beyond the arc.
Orlando certainly isn’t an offensive juggernaut, but I think they can find success against a Jazz team, allowing an average of 59.2 first-half points per game. The Magic rely heavily on their ability to score in the paint, and that game plan should reap some benefits tonight, with Utah allowing the 6th most points in the paint per game.
Orlando Magic 1H (-105)