NBA Eastern Conference Picks: Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The Orlando Magic have bested its win total from the 2012-13 season, and though the team is far from being a playoff contender, improvement must come as it does.
The 21-52 Magic will host the third best team in the East, the Toronto Raptors. The Magic are 17-18 at home this season and are 4.5 point underdogs in the contest.
If the playoffs began today, Toronto would square off against sixth seeded Washington in a tough first round matchup. The Raptors have won six of its past 10 games and are 19-17 on the road this season. Toronto has a plus-3.3 points differential and is 26-17 against the Eastern Conference. The Raptors boast a stingy defense which surrenders only 97.7 points per game, and the team is competent on the boards (15th, 43 per game).
DeMar DeRozan made his first All-Star appearance this season for Toronto and the swingman is leading the team in scoring at 22.8 points per game. The Raptors were pleased enough with DeRozan to rid itself of the costly redundancy of Rudy Gay, and the team has thrived with Terrence Ross emerging as a better player in his second season, as well.
Kyle Lowry is consistently very good and underrated, and posts 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. Center Jonas Valanciunas has a lot of potential to be a very good player. In just his second year, Jonas V is posting 10.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. His size and athleticism give him the tools to eventually be an elite center.
The Magic have just been experimenting with lineups and determining which players may be a part of its future plans. Tobias Harris has performed a lot better since Glen Davis’ contract was bought out, and Harris appears to be much better suited to play the 4-spot.
That leaves the future of Andrew Nicholson in question. Nicholson has played sparingly and seemingly regressed from his rookie season. He added a three-point shot, but he hits it at a low clip, and he’s just too undersized for a lot of defensive assignments, nor is he a great rebounder.
Norfolk State product Kyle O’Quinn has fared far better, and is the closest thing the Magic have to a rim protector, since starting center Nikola Vucevic still has a long ways to go defensively. Victor Oladipo has looked good at both guard spots and Magic GM Rob Hennigan is surely salivating at the potential backcourts possible if Oladipo were paired with Dante Exum or Marcus Smart.
The Magic will have its own lottery selection as well as an additional late lottery pick owed from the Dwight Howard trade, and the core of the rebuilding project is still very much in the balance. The Magic are not a good team yet, but there are some pieces in place that could eventually project into a nice team.
TOR Trends: OVER 4-0 in last 4 following SU win; 5-1 ATS in last 6 following ATS loss; OVER 5-1 in last 6 when opponent scores 100 or more in previous game.
ORL Trends: UNDER 4-0 in last 4 after allowing 100 points or more in previous game; 1-6 ATS in last 7 when opponent allows 100 or more in previous game; UNDER 5-1 in last 6 overall.
Head-to-head: Raptors 4-0 ATS in last 4 meetings; Raptors 5-1 ATS in last 6 in Orlando; OVER 5-2 in last 7 meetings in Orlando.