NBA Picks ATS: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard is averaging just under 20 points per game this season
Kawhi Leonard is averaging just under 20 points per game this season

Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs
Time: 7:30 PM CT (NBA League Pass)
Spread: SAS -15.5
Total: 203.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Orlando Magic have not had things go so well in 2016. Orlando was 19-13 when the calendar year turned over but won just 2 of 14 games in the month of January to fall to 21-25.

The Magic are not out of the hunt for a postseason berth, but it may be hard to stay on track after beating Boston just last night. The Magic will turn to face a Spurs team that is still a perfect 25-0 at home. NBA oddsmakers rightfully favor the Spurs by 15.5 points.

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The Magic are coming off a two-game series split with the Boston Celtics and last night were led by its two youngest performers in its 119-114 win over Boston. Second-year forward Aaron Gordon had 19 points, 14 rebounds and five assists and rookie Mario Hezonja came in throwing flames, hitting 7 of 13 from the field to finish with 17 points and a team best +20 differential. The Magic were paced in scoring by Evan Fournier’s 24 points in 23 minutes, as he connected on 6 of 8 from the floor, 4 of 5 from three point range, and 8 of 11 from the free throw line.

The Magic for the most part have had nothing but rough times in 2016 though. It posted the worst offensive rating for the month of January league-wide, and Scott Skiles’ winning coach of the month in December seems like a distant memory. The Magic have been particularly horrendous defensively, after making that the team’s calling card through the early part of the season.

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The Magic do not have a rim protector to speak of, and Nikola Vucevic is a limited defender whose slow timing on rotations makes the Magic an easy team for penetrators to exploit.

The Magic also have suffered from Elfrid Payton’s shaken confidence, the result of not possessing a reliable jumper. Teams have dared Payton to shoot. In last night’s win he saw just 15 minutes of court time while picking up four fouls and turning it over three times.

It remains unclear whether the Magic will make a more radical adjustment by pulling him from the starting lineup, but the team functioned with Fournier at the point the majority of last game. It may be tough to even assess the matter if the Spurs come out and play to the level they usually do as a team.

The Spurs most recently fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, 117-103. David West received another start with Tim Duncan unable to go, and West had an efficient 4 of 6 shooting night in helping to fill the void. Even without Duncan the Spurs can tick quite well, which maybe should be unsurprising with Timmy averaging just nine and eight this season.

The Spurs’ real MVP is Kawhi Leonard who is averaging 19.9 points per game this season and led the way against Cleveland with 24 points on 7 of 15 shooting. San Antonio had 11 players play 10 minutes or more in the game, and that may be a theme we see repeated tonight against Orlando.

The Spurs would like victory (obviously), and it would help them in pursuit of Golden State in the West— but do not expect Gregg Popovich to press his starters into heavy action on the second night of a back to back against a team like the Orlando Magic.

True, the Magic have made big strides under first-year coach Scott Skiles, but the roster remains young and is not quite ready to hang with the big boys like the Spurs. The Magic also are in need of a few components lacking to render this team a postseason contender. On that list is court spacers (shooters) and a defensive minded big man or two.

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