Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Orlando Magic kicks off this Tuesday (01/09/24) at 7:00pm EST in Orlando Florida as a home game for the Magic. Get Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Orlando Magic predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on the Timberwolves -5 in a bounce back spot against the Magic.
Minnesota Timberwolves Vs. Orlando Magic Prediction
It’s a battle between two elite defenses, as the Minnesota Timberwolves sit at the top of the board in Defensive Efficiency while the Orlando Magic are right behind them at number two per TeamRankings. Their impressive marks are not from just excelling at one area of the defense because both do a tremendous job at defending the arc and inside circle. The issue for the Magic this time around is that they have to try and recapture that success while their starting lineup is decimated by injuries.
Even amidst their injuries, they managed to hold their own against the Denver Nuggets (a hyper-efficient offense that thrives at creating separation and open shots) as well as beat the Hawks in their last game out. It’s safe to say that the Timberwolves are not nearly the same in terms of offense, ranking as low as 19th in Offensive Efficiency. While that normally means that the Magic should maintain their elite defensive marks against a weaker offense, the Timberwolves throw a unique wrinkle in the form of two bigs and a tendency to slash to the rim at a high rate.
The Timberwolves will look to continue to slash towards the rim against the hobbled Magic unit, creating high quality scoring opportunities. Losing Wendell Carter Jr. is a big blow in their efforts to defend the bigs, now needing to stretch out Paolo Banchero and leaving Goga Bitadze on an island. Goga plays as a more true big man in the sense of anchoring the paint yet is slower and less athletic than Carter Jr and may struggle to shift over when Edwards and company drive into the paint on the opposite side.
Luckily for the Timberwolves, the Magic also roll out the same offensive scheme as they want to do their damage in the interior. The issue for Orlando is that they do it at a very inefficient rate, shooting 54% as a whole inside the arc and 46.3% in their last three games amidst injuries. With the Timberwolves bigs lurking in the paint, the Magic may be stretched out and have to find success beyond the arc. An area of the offense where they shoot 35.1% from, good for 26th in the league.
Minnesota Timberwolves Vs. Orlando Magic Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves -5
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Minnesota Timberwolves Vs. Orlando Magic Best Odds
Even in the middle of their struggles in their past few contests, oddsmakers have this as a Timberwolves bounce back spot as they opened Minnesota as a -4.5 favorite. Bettors believe that number opened a tad too low, backing the Timberwolves up to as high as -5.5 in some shops. Expect them to give the Magic offense fits while setting a scoring pace too fast for them to catch up with.
As for the total, oddsmakers believed points would be scored at a moderate rate as they opened the number at 222.5. Bettors believe points will come at a drastically slower pace, betting the under down to as low as 217. This is heavily correlated with both offenses running the same scheme, heavily revolving around attacking the rim with potential minimal consistent success.
Minnesota Timberwolves Starting Lineup
Orlando Magic Starting Lineup
Minnesota Timberwolves Vs. Orlando Magic Injuries
The Minnesota Timberwolves come into this contest relatively healthy while the Orlando Magic will be without Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Joe Ingles, and Jonathan Isaac.
Minnesota Timberwolves Vs. Orlando Magic Key Matchups
Can the Timberwolves bigs shut down Paolo Banchero?
Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns Vs. Paolo Banchero
Paolo Banchero has taken a major leap with his production and has started to round into one of the best power forwards in the NBA. He’s the team’s leading scorer, averaging 23.1 points per game as he continues to slash into the paint as an elite finisher.
PAOLO BANCHERO scored 18 straight in the 4th and OT on his way to a career-high 43 PTS 🔥
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 4, 2024
Like the team as a whole, Banchero prefers to attack the paint rather than find success from deep. This will be an issue against a Timberwolves defense who anchors two bigs in the middle, especially since the Magic will be ill-equipped to stretch them out with their poor shooting marks from three. Expect them to smother Banchero’s drives to the rim, lessening the chance of him converting and stalling out the offense. The Timberwolves bigs are one of the key reasons why they will cover the -5 spread in this Timberwolves vs Magic prediction.