Orlando at Detroit
Time: 3 PM CT, NBA League Pass
Spread: DET -10.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Detroit Pistons have won two-straight and are 16-13, occupying the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons will host the struggling Orlando Magic, losers of its past four, at 3 PM (CT) on NBA League Pass. Detroit is heavy 10.5-point favorites over Orlando, who is just 5-11 on the road this season and playing with a bevy of injured rotation players. The over/under is set at 202 points by NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Orlando fell 95-88 last outing to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Magic got Aaron Gordon back, but he shot just 4 of 10 for 13 points and six rebounds in the loss. Nikola Vucevic had a big game with 26 points and 14 rebounds, but it was not enough to stave off Portland’s backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who combined for 41 points. Orlando was without star guard Evan Fournier, and Mario Hezonja did little in filling in for him with just four points and two rebounds in 21 minutes. The Magic are simply not a deep enough team to weather injuries to key players, and while Jonathon Simmons is a solid reserve, few others off the Magic bench are able to step in and play starter’s minutes.
Fournier leads the team with 18.3 points per game, and Gordon nearly ties him at that mark, but the Magic are a team without a true No. 1 option, and that has been an ongoing problem for Frank Vogel. Initially, it appeared Orlando would be defensive juggernauts in starting the season hot, but that has settled down and the defense—and offense—has looked far more mediocre as the season has unraveled. Fournier is out for this game too with an ankle injury, and NBA oddsmakers are not confident Orlando can maintain any high level of play without its best perimeter shooter. Fournier has missed the last four games and Orlando has lost all of them, with only the loss to Atlanta coming by less than 10 points.
The Pistons are 8-5 at home this season and most recently scored road victories over the Hawks and Indiana Pacers. Andre Drummond has evolved this season into one of the league’s best high post passers. Drummond is averaging a career-high 3.9 assists per game with his 15.2 rebounds and 14 points per game. Tobias Harris, a former Magic swingman, leads Detroit in scoring at 17.8 points per game, and the Tennessee product has been good as Detroit’s leading option offensively. Avery Bradley was acquired this offseason to replace Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and by all means, the former Celtic has been an upgrade.
Bradley averages 15.7 points and two assists per game while playing stifling defense on the opponents’ best perimeter scorers. Reggie Jackson is No. 3 on the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game, but Detroit ideally would like Jackson to score more still. The team averages 102.6 points per game but maintains a defense that ranks No. 7 in allowing just 101.7 points per game. Stan Van Gundy typically raises strong defensive teams, and having a rim protector like Drummond makes that proposition all the easier. Detroit has the defenders and scorers to put together a plus.-.500 season, but by how many games it can leap that bar is unclear. It really depends on if SVG can coax more offense out of a roster not replete with scoring options.
Van Gundy has done well since being ousted from Orlando, but this still serves as something of a revenge game for the Pistons head coach. Dwight Howard is mostly responsible for his exodus from Orlando, and though Howard is long since departed from the Magic himself, there is a stinger in Van Gundy’s rear over the way the whole thing happened. Surely, securing victory against his former team in decisive fashion would help to alleviate that pain. Expect Detroit to make a strong statement against a Magic team without its leading scorer today on NBA league pass.