Utah Jazz vs. Orlando Magic: Keys to the Game

Nov 11, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the basket as Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) defends during the second half at Amway Center. Utah Jazz defeated the Orlando Magic 87-74. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the basket as Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) defends during the second half at Amway Center. Utah Jazz defeated the Orlando Magic 87-74. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Utah Jazz outmatched the Orlando Magic the last time these two teams met and should be able to do so again in their final game of a three-game home stand.

Coming off a monster 33-point win over the Detroit Pistons last night, the Utah Jazz will turn around and host the Orlando Magic in the second game in as many nights in rare back-to-back home games. Utah buried an impressive 16 three-pointers against the Pistons and will hope to carry over their hot shooting into tonight’s game.

In my piece previewing Utah’s contest against the Pistons I pinned three-point shooting as the key stat in which the Jazz needed to out-perform their foe and they most definitely did. Their 16-of-31 clip absolutely outpaced Detroit’s 6-of-17.


And tonight’s opponent, the Orlando Magic, isn’t exactly a force to be reckoned with from deep as they rank third to last in the league at just 33.8 percent. So if the same sharp-shooting Jazz team from last night shows up in this final game of a three-game home stand, it should be another victorious night for the home team.

Strangely, the Jazz struggled against the Magic last season, dropping both contests, but already this year Utah is 1-0 against Orlando having defeated them during a five-game road trip earlier in the season. That game was neck-and-neck for most of the way until Utah put the clamps on defensively and held the Magic to just a 10-point scoring output in the fourth quarter.

Orlando still has yet to get their season or their head-scratching roster sorted out and they come in as heavy underdogs with a record of 17-24. They are coming off a solid road win against the Trail Blazers last night but given the fact that they’ve struggled to string together consecutive wins this season, have lost four of their last five, and are just 2-4 on the second night of back-to-backs, the Jazz should have a great chance to come away victorious.

Therefore, as long as Utah takes care of business in the following areas, they will more than likely be comfortable winners for the second time in as many nights.

Key Match-up – Derrick Favors and Serge Ibaka

Last time these two teams met, I pinned Rodney Hood and Orlando’s leading scorer Evan Fournier as the game’s key match-up. Unfortunately, Fournier significantly out-dueled Hood in the contest which was likely a large reason why the Magic were able to keep the game so close.

But, strangely enough, Derrick Favors who is having a less than memorable season so far as he works to fully recover from his latest injury woes, posted one of his best games of the year as he finished with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting while also grabbing nine boards. He completely out-shined his Magic counterpart Serge Ibaka who finished with just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.


And doing such is no easy task as Ibaka is the Magic’s second leading scorer at 15.5 points per game and has shot the ball considerably well this year. With Fournier having a big game the last time around, there’s no question that Favors’ ability to shut down Ibaka was a major contributing factor to the win.

Therefore, I’ve pinned this as the match-up to watch once again. Favors seems to be slowly but surely improving, but he still has a long ways to go before returning to the prowess that Jazz fans became accustomed to last season. However, he’s due for another big game much like the one he had last time against the Magic and I expect him to go at Ibaka with confidence once again.

While it will be important for the Jazz to also slow Evan Fournier who has been the Magic’s most consistent scorer this season, Favors’ ability to outplay Ibaka will likely also be an enormous determining factor to the game’s outcome.

Key Stat – Second Chance Points

Although the Orlando Magic aren’t an overall great rebounding team as they rank just 21st in the league at 43 per game, they are actually among the better teams at converting second chance opportunities into points. The Magic average 10 offensive rebounds per game which they are turning into 13.3 points per game, the ninth highest mark in the league.

And Orlando, who averages just 99.2 points per game despite playing at a pace nearly five possessions per game faster than the Jazz, could certainly use those easy looks off of second chance opportunities as their offense has struggled mightily to score this year.

Last time the Jazz and Magic played, Orlando put up a measly 74 points. Thus as long as Utah can prevent them from getting easy buckets off of offensive rebounds, it’s pretty likely that the Magic will lack the offensive firepower to be able to deal with Utah’s overwhelming defense.

The Jazz on the other hand rank dead last in the league in second chance points at just 9.9 per game. This is largely due to their commitment to get back and set up their sturdy half-court defense, but at times it would be nice to see them work to take advantage of more easy scoring opportunities.

Nevertheless, due to the styles that both these teams play, while Utah may not necessarily win the second chance point battle outright, if they can at least hold the Magic to below their season average and prevent them from gaining any offensive momentum off of easy second chance looks, then the Jazz should easily be able to slow their offense and come away with a comfortable win.

Key Performer – George Hill

In the last contest between these two teams, Gordon Hayward was the clear key performer as his 20 points paced the Jazz to their impressive victory. Hayward could very well be the lead guy again for Utah as he’ll be matched up against Aaron Gordon who still hasn’t looked quite comfortable matching up against other quicker small forwards.

However, George Hill was absent the last time these two teams met having just barely suffered a thumb injury, but now that he is back and flourishing as evidenced by his 22 points and five made threes last night, the Magic who are weak at the point guard position could be in for a long night trying to contain him.

George Hill should enjoy an exceptional advantage over both Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin as neither is known as a lockdown defender and Hill should be able to overpower them on both ends of the floor.

With the Magic having no guard capable of truly matching up with Hill who has been a man on a mission for the Jazz this season, I expect him to lead the charge and come away with a big game in tonight’s contest.

Prediction – Jazz 95, Magic 80

I severely underestimated the margin of Utah’s victory last night as they were able to easily handle the Pistons who ran out of gas late in the game. While I’d be surprised to see them pull off two such blowouts in a row, I still expect the Jazz to win quite comfortably tonight.

Orlando is coming off of a late game last night as well, but they also had to throw in travel from Portland to Utah so they should be somewhat more weary. Plus besides, the Jazz truly outmatch them up and down the roster anyway, so I’m feeling confident sticking with my prediction from earlier in the week and pinning the Jazz as 15-point winners tonight.

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If the Jazz are able to do so, they will go a perfect 3-0 in their recent home stand which will be a great way to get back on track following their latest road trip and also instill them with confidence for their quick two-game road stint to Phoenix and Dallas.

Both of those games are quite winnable as well and if Utah can continue to click like they did last night, they will be poised to go on a big run between now and the All-Star break. Their play of late has been extremely encouraging and if it holds up, this Utah team could very well be comfortably in fourth place in the West by that point of the season.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com