Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic
Time: 6 PM ET (NBA League Pass)
Spread: IND -1.5
Beting odds c/o 5dimes
The Indiana Pacers come in tonight’s game at 29-25 and are just two games away from No. 3 Boston Celtics in the standings.
The Orlando Magic won its first game following the pair of trades the team made at the NBA Trade Deadline, and Orlando will look to improve to 16-13 at home with a victory over the Pacers. NBA oddsmakers favor Indiana by 1.5 points and the game will air at 6 PM Eastern on NBA League Pass.
The Magic appeared to be a different team with a couple added floor spacers, but the underlying reason behind both deals the Magic made was to clear cap room to chase a max-contract free agent this summer. Whether the Magic can make an ascent in the standings to become a playoff team this season is unclear. Head coach Scott Skiles said the Magic will likely need to go 20-10 throughout the second-leg of the season to qualify for the postseason.
Can Orlando turn its season around? The Magic did go 19-13 through the 2015 calendar year, but getting back on track has proven difficult after a one-win January. The Magic still have a quality starting lineup, and the thought may be that with Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings that Scott Skiles has couple former players under his watch to help the team establish its new identity.
The Magic badly needed shooting in the backcourt, and Jennings’ four threes on Friday night against Dallas certainly seemed to show the spark that he is capable of providing.
Perhaps more impressive than that was what Aaron Gordon brought to the table defensively. The Magic held Dirk Nowitzki to just 4 of 16 shooting, but Dirk was just 1 of 9 from the field with Gordon matched up against him. The Magic will need a similar performance from Gordon tonight on forward Paul George.
The Pacers’ frontcourt could prove problematic for Orlando all the way around though. Indiana starts a big lineup now with George back at the 3-spot and rookie Myles Turner manning the power forward position. Defensive big man Ian Mahinmi rounds it out and gives Indy the rim protection needed to seal off the basket.
The Pacers are 2-0 against the Magic this season with George having averaged 23.5 points, five rebounds and five assists against Orlando. Expect to see Gordon on George as much as possible, but with Turner starting at the 4-spot at 6’11” the Magic may find itself a bit outmatched by the Pacers frontcourt.
Orlando starts Evan Fournier at small forward now, and for all Fournier is a shooter, it is difficult to imagine he can put the clamps on George whilst Gordon matches up with Turner.
The idea of Gordon being an undersized 4 seems to lack weight, though. He showed the entire NBA just how athletic he is in the 2016 dunk contest, and Gordon seems to find a way to cover players three and four inches taller without much of a problem. Even so, the Pacers have been able to exploit Orlando’s weak perimeter rotations this season, and it will be difficult for the Magic to consistently chase George Hill, C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey and company off the arc.
Indiana holds a +2.3 differential this season and has been good scoring, averaging 102.5 points per game. Orlando began the season with a strong defensive identity, but at this point the Magic are giving up 100.9 points per game to opponents.
Orlando scores just 99.6 itself, good for a -1.3 differential. The ’203’ betting total for this game seems rather appropriate, if not difficult to wager on. Indiana has won six of its past 10 while the Magic have won four of its past 10 games. Expect this to be a tight battle between two teams looking to solidify their playoff chances in a crowded Eastern Conference chase.