The Knicks and Magic have both been slipping on defense lately, and facing a modest total in a situation where New York’s offense will be under onus to perform, our NBA picks and backing fireworks over Disney World.
The New York Knicks have hit a bit of a rough patch, dropping five of their last eight games overall, and they will have to settle down if they hope to hold on to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks will try to get back on track when they visit the Orlando Magic. But that may be easier said than done. While the Magic will miss out on the playoffs this year, the future looks bright in Orlando. Led by Rookie of the Year odds leader, Paolo Banchero, the Magic have been a much more competitive team this season.
Knicks vs Magic best odds
Knicks vs Magic picks and predictions
The Knicks were cruising for a while there, winning nine in a row through the early part of March. But things haven’t been as smooth of late with the team losing five of their last eight, including the last two in a row; one to the Minnesota Timberwolves and last night against the Miami Heat.
Their defense was the problem in those games, surrendering 127 and 140 points respectively. And that has been the theme over this rough patch. The Knicks rank 25th in defensive rating and are giving up 116.5 points per game over this eight-game stretch.
Meanwhile, the Magic come into this one winners of two of their last three, including a 122-112 beatdown of the Washington Wizards their last time out. Orlando has of course led by Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero. The former Blue Devil is averaging 20 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game for the Magic this season.
But it’s not just Banchero. Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., and maybe even Markelle Fultz have given the Magic something to build around. And this team is really finding its stride down the stretch this season.
They’re shooting the ball better since the start of March, ranking 15th in the NBA in shooting percentage, and with their high tempo (the Magic rank sixth in pace this month), are scoring a respectable 117.5 points per game. That’s the 11th-best in the NBA over that span.
And despite the Knicks’ recent struggles, the offense hasn’t really been a problem. Jalen Brunson is still playing terrific basketball this season. Julius Randle can be up and down at times, but he just put up 57 points against the T-wolves a few nights ago. And RJ Barrett is looking more and more comfortable all the time.
Since the start of March, the Knicks rank seventh in scoring at 119.7 points per game and eighth in field goal percentage. And tonight, they face a below-average defensive team in the Magic. Orlando ranks 19th in defensive efficiency and 20th in opponent field goal percentage.
This will be much different than the first two between these teams, I’m expecting a bit of a surprising shootout in this game and am taking the Over.
My best bet: Over 228.5 (-105 at DraftKings)
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Knicks vs Magic spread analysis
Oddsmakers are giving the Magic plenty of respect in this one, setting them as just 3.5-point home underdogs, and have yet to move off that number. That’s due to the combination of a few things.
Most importantly, as noted above, the Magic are playing decent basketball recently. And it has shown up in their spreads. The Magic have covered four straight spreads, and three of those were as underdogs of 6.5 points or more.
That’s kind of been a theme for them all season. When the Magic are an impressive 21-11-1 ATS as underdogs between 5-and-9.5 points.
Another factor here is that the Knicks are playing in the second half of a back-to-back. But even so, I think this line may be giving a little too much respect to the Magic.
The Knicks have won both of the previous meetings this season, which includes a four-point victory in Orlando back at the beginning of February. New York is going to want to refocus quickly after last night’s loss to the Heat. And they are good at that. The Knicks are 22-7-2 ATS in their last 31 games playing in the second half of a back-to-back.
The Knicks’ best players will outplay Banchero and Co., so I would lean toward the Knicks in this spot.
Knicks vs Magic Over/Under analysis
The total hit the board at 229 and has been bet down slightly to 228.5 as of early Thursday afternoon. I broke down why I’m on the Over above, but the Knicks have also played above this number in three of their last four games, while the Over is 7-2 in the Magic’s last nine games overall. I also think the Knicks who have been playing at a higher tempo of late will try to keep up with the pace of the Magic here, meaning more possessions and scoring opportunities.
Knicks vs Magic betting trend to know
The Over is 5-0 in the Magic’s last five home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Knicks vs. Magic.
Knicks vs Magic game info
|Location:||Amway Center, Orlando, FL|
|Date:||Thursday, March 23, 2023|
|Tip-off:||7:00 p.m. ET|