Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic Pick & Prediction JANUARY 12th 2024

The NBA’s two Florida teams — the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic — have identical 21-16 records.

The Heat, who will host the Magic on Friday night, are coming off a 128-120 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat allowed the Thunder to shoot 59.3 percent from the floor on Wednesday, and that surely disappointed everyone on Miami’s squad.

“When we’re missing shots,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said, “we can’t let that effect our energy and effort on the other end.”

The Heat beat Orlando in their only previous meeting this season, defeating the Magic 115-106 in Orlando on Dec. 20. Herro scored a game-high 28 points in that contest.

Miami, though, played Wednesday’s game without three rotation players, including the Heat’s biggest star, Jimmy Butler (foot). Caleb Martin (ankle) and Kyle Lowry (hand) also sat out the game. Butler and Lowry are doubtful for Friday’s game while Martin and Herro (shoulder) are questionable.

Without the trio of players, Bam Adebayo and Herro become even more important. Adebayo had 25 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two blocks on Wednesday. Herro had 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

But the Heat are also counting on less experienced players such as rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., 22, and Nikola Jovic, 20, both of whom are now starters.

Jaquez was named the Eastern Conference’s Rookie of the Month for December, averaging 16.1 points. He also won the top-rookie award in November.

Jovic has made four straight starts, averaging 9.8 points during that span. He was efficient on Wednesday, scoring 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep. He also had five rebounds and four assists.

Meanwhile, the Magic have cooled off since tying a franchise record with a nine-game win streak that ended early last month.

Like Miami, Orlando is dealing with significant injuries. When the Magic lost to the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 113-92 on Tuesday, they were without Franz Wagner (ankle), Wendell Carter Jr. (knee), Joe Ingles (ankle) and Gary Harris (calf). Wagner and Harris will sit out against Miami.

In fact, the Magic had just 10 available players against the Timberwolves on Tuesday.

Moritz Wagner led the Magic with 21 points, but he said his squad lacked energy against Minnesota.

“We’re probably not the best shooting team in the league,” Moritz Wagner said. “We’ve got to create havoc. We have to be the ones to bring the juice.”

The Magic last season improved from 22 to 34 wins. This season, they are on pace for similar improvement, and that’s largely due to the play of Paolo Banchero, who was unanimously named the NBA’s 2022-2023 Rookie of the Year.

This season, he is leading Orlando in scoring (22.9), rebounds (7.1) and assists (4.8). A poised player, Banchero is also shooting 38.1 percent on 3-pointers.

Another key Magic player is third-year guard Jalen Suggs, 22. His 3-point shooting continues to improve, from 21.4 percent as a rookie to 32.7 percent last season and his current mark of 40.3 percent.

In addition, he is averaging 13.7 points, which is on pace to be his career-best total. On Tuesday, he scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from deep. Suggs has scored at least 20 in five of the past eight games.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping