Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors Pick & Prediction MARCH 17th 2024

With a chance to create some distance from the Play-in Tournament seeding, the Orlando Magic look to complete a two-game sweep of the free-falling Toronto Raptors when they return home Sunday.

Orlando (39-28), the fifth seed in the current Eastern Conference standings, enters play winners of two straight, including Friday’s 113-103 win in Toronto.

On pace for their first postseason appearance since 2020 and best record since the 2010-11 season, the Magic have benefited from a year-long balanced offensive effort from their young core, which was on display Friday.

Orlando boasted six players in double figures against the Raptors, including Franz Wagner’s 19 points and Paolo Banchero’s 17.

In his second season, Banchero leads the team with 22.7 points per game, while the 22-year old Wagner follows with 20 points per game.

On Friday, Banchero nearly finished with a triple-double as he collected nine rebounds and eight assists to go along with his 17 points. The emerging star was limited to just six first-half points before finding his rhythm after halftime.

“(Paolo) is going to continue to attack the basket,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “I think he did a good job of trying to spray and find guys. Whether or not his shots fell early, he was trying to look for other guys more than anything.”

Since falling to the Mavericks on Jan. 29, Orlando has won 15 of its past 20 games.

For Toronto (23-44), the season has gone from bad to worse as of late, with the Raptors in the midst of a season-high six-game losing streak, winners of just one game since Feb. 26.

In what has been a rebuild for the Raptors and first-year coach Darko Rajakovic, the team will miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2013, and their .343 winning percentage would be the worst for the franchise since 2010-11.

One recent bright spot, however, has been the play of Gary Trent Jr.

The 25-year old shooting guard poured in a season-high 31 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead all scorers in Friday’s loss. Trent had missed the previous two games for the Raptors due to a groin injury and scores12.7 points per contest.

“We have to try to get as many wins as we can,” Trent said of his goal for the rest of the season. “Trying to contribute to winning again. We’re still fighting, but there is a bigger picture. We’re even trying to get ready for next year with little stuff we want to implement.”

One of Toronto’s top scorers on the season, RJ Barrett (19.5 points per game), has missed the past two games due to the tragic loss of his younger brother, Nathan. There is no timetable for his return.

The Raptors have also been without All-Star forward Scottie Barnes (19.9 points per game) since March 3, as a fracture in his left hand has him out indefinitely.

An Orlando win Sunday would clinch a three-game season sweep of the Raptors, something the Magic haven’t done since the 2011-12 campaign.

–Field Level Media

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