Orlando at Utah
Time: 8 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: UTA 6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Orlando Magic enter Tuesday night’s showdown with the Utah Jazz as winners of six of its last 10 and at 12-14 overall the Magic are seeded No. 8 in the Eastern Conference. The Magic are just 4-8 on the road where it faces the Jazz. Utah is 6.5-point favorites and the betting total is set at 208 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Orlando Magic have to be somewhat pleased with its internal progress. There are a number of glaring issues that will likely cause Orlando to bow out in the first round of the NBA playoffs for a second straight season, but there are enough bright spots for the Magic to know things are at least headed in the right direction. The Magic possesses the league’s No. 29 ranked offense and only score 102.5 per game, but it has been one of the league’s better defensive teams in holding opponents to 103.8 per. The Magic are a team without a single player who could be a No. 2 option on a contending team, yet have played together in such a way as to maximize the gifts of both Vucevic and star-wing player Evan Fournier. Fournier was outstanding while Vucevic was out, and the Magic are hoping he continues the aggressive play with the starting 5-man back in the fold.
One the season, the Frenchman is averaging 20.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.0 steals per game, while posting the highest PER on the team (outside of Vucevic’s 22.23) of all active players right now. Aaron Gordon has been his usual inconsistent self, and clearly now appears to be hitting something close to his eventual peak—the notion he is going to be a breakout player every year should surely die its slow death finally. Gordon averages 14 points and seven rebounds per game, but he shoots just 43.5 percent from the floor and 31 percent from three this season.
Third-year forward Jonathan Isaac has emerged into one of the league’s best one-on-one defenders, but he is still trying to figure things out on the offensive end, mostly. Isaac averages 12.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 4.0 steal/blocks per game. Isaac also gets 2.7 blocks per contest while doing a good job of avoiding foul trouble. His defense is clean and deadly. Markelle Fultz is rounding into form after battling bizarre injury diagnoses his first two seasons before being traded to the Magic. Fultz is averaging 11.7 points and 4.1 assists per game, but he is really probably just scratching the surface as a once-vaunted former No. 1 overall pick.
Former Texas product and rookie Mo Bamba has shown flashes, including a very efficient and strong three-point shot, but he is not ready for the bulk of the center minutes yet, so Orlando has played Khem Birch extensively due to his sharp defensive institutions and his reliability on both ends of the court. Birch has limited upside comparatively, but Orlando is focused on winning now, returning to the playoffs, and allowing its team to blossom, far more than obtaining another high draft pick. That is especially due to the fact that the best pick of Orlando’s rebuild (Victor Oladipo) is now starring for the Indiana Pacers.
The Utah Jazz is 15-11 thus far this season, but it enters Monday night’s game as losers of three of its last four. Things have been slower coming together following the addition of point guard Mike Conley, perhaps than anyone may have expected. The veteran is coming around after a horrid start to this season and now averaging 14 points and 4.6 assists per game. His ball-handling and offense help keep Donovan Mitchell ready to find his scoring spots, and Mitchell is blossoming into a true superstar in his third season.
“Spida” as Mitchell goes by, is averaging 25 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while talking a PER just under 20. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Jazz has been that Bojan Bogdanovic is far more than a role player, but more of a second star. This changes a lot.
Bogdanovic is averaging 20.8 points per game while shooting 45.6 percent from behind the arc on seven attempts per game. His offense helps the Jazz continue to play its slow, defense-first style of basketball, of course, cued by the defense of Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 14 points and 13.7 boards per game, but his 2.6 blocks/steals help further illustrate his importance to Utah. His rim protection is among the league’s best, and he covers the occasional blunders of Mitchell and the Jazz’s other perimeter defenders nearly flawlessly.
Also, Utah has stepped up its scoring to 107 per game this year, and with the way that Utah defends, that should be adequate to put together another very nice season. While few are quick to credit the Jazz in the realms of the elite and true contenders, it arguably is the strongest of the dark horse contenders in either conference.