Minnesota at Orlando
Time: 6 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: ORL -2.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Orlando Magic have won just three of its past seven and are 10 games below .500. Even still, Orlando is just four games behind No. 8 Miami for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
The Magic will host the Minnesota Timberwolves as 2.5-point favorites on Thursday night at 6 PM (CT) on NBA League Pass. 5dimes sets the over/under at 215 total points in NBA live odds.
ORL TEAM NOTES:
Orlando most recently had its two-game win streak snapped by the Oklahoma City Thunder, falling 122-132 on the road. The Magic got huge performances from several key players despite the loss: Terrence Ross scored 26 points in 26 minutes off the bench, while Aaron Gordon had 10 assists to go with his 18 points (but he also had a team-high eight turnovers). Evan Fournier hit 8 of 16 from the field en route to 25 points. The Magic shot 46.7 percent from the field in the loss, but were plagued by its 18 turnovers and lost the battle of the boards 49-40.
Gordon has come on strong in his past eight games to the tune of 17.1 points, five assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. The forward remains Orlando’s best player, or the most valuable in terms of trade assets, notwithstanding that Nikola Vucevic is Orlando’s lone All-Star. Vucevic is averaging 22.5 points and 11.9 rebounds over his last 10 games, and the Swiss native has come into his own this season, in what is a “contract season” for “Vooch.”
The Magic are still years away from feeling comfortable with Mo Bamba as its starting center, and it will have decisions to make regarding just how much money Vucevic should command (should he even be re-signed). Bamba recently announced he will miss extended time with a stress fracture in his leg, which only made it a near-certainty the Magic would not deal Vucevic—not if it is serious about its postseason chances, which are still very much alive.
The Magic have been perhaps most pleased with Ross, who is making a legitimate run at the league’s Sixth Man award. Despite only playing 26 minutes a game, Ross averages a shade under 15 points and shoots 37.7 percent from three-point range, which ranks No. 3 on the team. Vucevic is hitting 38 percent of his triples while attempting three per game. The Magic have shot 34.8 percent from behind the arc on 31.5 attempts per game.
DJ Augustin leads the team in three-point marksmanship with his 42.8 percent average on 3.9 attempts per game. Orlando is a much better shooting team than often credited for, with five players averaging over one three per game. Augustin, too, has been superb, but the Magic have not kept it secret it is hunting for a bigger, more long-term point guard.
MINNESOTA TEAM NOTES:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have lost its past two outings to fall two games under .500. IT has posted a 10-7 mark against Eastern Conference teams and Minnesota is 8-18 on the road this season where it encounters the Magic in this Thursday night showdown.
The Wolves most recently lost to the struggling Memphis Grizzlies. Despite Memphis having basically its entire roster on the trade block, it got 25 points from Mike Conley and 23 points from rookie Jaren Jackson Jr, as it defeated Minnesota 108-106. The Wolves got a huge game from Karl-Anthony Towns in the loss, as he finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds. Dario Saric had one of his better games since coming to Minnesota in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Philly.
Saric finished with 22 points, five assists, and seven rebounds in 33 minutes while posting a team-best +29 for his time on the court. Saric knocked down 4 of 7 from three and 4 of 4 from the line and put in a really complete offensive performance. Saric is averaging just seven points per game over his last 10 games, but he has turned it on so far in February, averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25 minutes a night through two games. Ideally, Saric becomes a great stretch-4 complement to Towns in the starting lineup, but it just has not quite happened yet. His inconsistency is the primary reason why. Despite having an outstanding performance against Memphis, he had failed to score more than eight points in the three previous games.
Saric did have 11 boards in a 111-125 loss to Utah on Jan 27, but he shot just 1 of 4 from the field for three points. The Wolves just never are quite sure which Saric will turn up, but when he is at his best he looks like a fringe All-Star, while at his worst looking nearly “un-rosterable.” Eventually, Saric will have to gain consistency, because while he was overshadowed in Philadelphia, he is now receiving ample chances with the Wolves but only making the best of it at times.