Battle up North: Orlando Magic at Minnesota Timberwolves

Orlando Magic AT Minnesota Timberwolves
January 15th, 2011 at 8:00 PM EST
Opening Line:  Orlando -7
Current Line: Orlando -7.5
Opening Total: 209
Current Total: 209.5
Opening Moneyline:  Orlando -350 / Minn. +290
Current Moneyline:  Orlando -350 / Minn. +270

Kevin Love will probably have another big game tonight, but will it be enough?

After winning nine straight, suddenly Orlando is looking to stop a losing streak.  They dropped back to back games against New Orleans (by 3 in overtime) and another heartbreaker the next night to Kevin Durant and the Thunder, a one point nailbiter that could have been the Magic’s if not for Mr. Durant nailing down some key free throws in the waning moments of the game.

Things might be easier against the Timberwolves who sit at 10-30 with a .250 win perecentage.  They are a decent and respectable 8-11 at home.  The Magic will have to avoid the slow starts that have plagued them recently.  “I don’t like that trend,” Van Gundy said. “Whether we have to make changes in that lineup or something, but those guys – we’re just always in a hole now and that’s not good.”

Last game against Minnesota there was no concern of a slow start on November 3rd as the Magic shot over 60% from the floor and blew the Wolves out by a ridiculous 42 points.  Van Gundy hopes for similar success tonight, against a Wolves team that really only has two legitimate starter caliber players in Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, who have played superb basketball.  They just haven’t received enough help and if Love doesn’t see a chance to play with a winning basketball team he may bolt in free agency this summer, putting an end to one of the few positive things in Minnesota’s recent years.

Some betting trends:

Orlando is 9-2 SU in their last 11 games and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of their last 6 games.  The total has gone OVER in 4 of their last 5 on the road, however, and they are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 road games.  They are 5-0 SU in their last 5 against the Wolves and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of their last 6 games against Minnesota.  The total has gone OVER in 8 of the last 12, however, and the total has gone OVER in 4 of the last 5 road games against Minnesota.  They are 5-1 SU in their last 6 on the road against the Wolves.

Minnesota is 1-5 SU over their last 6 games and the total has gone OVER In 6 of their last 9 at home.  They are 2-4 SU in their last 6 at home and also 2-4 ATS in their last 6 at home.  They are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 against the Magic.

Key matchups:

Brandon Bass & Ryan Anderson vs.  Kevin Love

Both Bass and Anderson are decent rebounders, but they are against the very best rebounder in the league this year and will have their problems keeping Love off the glass where he is averaging 15.7 boards a night.  Failing to box out could spell disaster and leave Dwight Howard with fits trying to out leap Love’s good positioning.  Minnesota is the best rebounding team in the entire league, even if they are horrible at everything else.  Love will also stretch the floor, dragging Bass and Anderson away from the offensive boards where Milicic will do his fair share of rebounding as well.  This is the key matchup of the game for the Magic as it pits their weakest starting position against Minnesota’s best.  However, even if Love is able to exploit this matchup, it probably won’t be enough for the Wolves, as evidenced by the drubbing they took last time they faced the Magic.

Hedo Turkoglu vs. Michael Beasley

As mentioned, Beasley is the only other player than Love to put together much of a season.  Unmotivated and lazy, he was called a “lazy pothead” by his former GM in Miami, which drew criticism and a fine for the comment.  Beasley has went on to prove him drastically wrong as he has emerged as a fine player this season, averaging better than 20 points per game and teaming up with Love and Milicic to give Minnesota a promising front court.  If they can retain that core and add Ricky Rubio to the mix next year along with a couple of players signed for depth, they might have a decent team.  Beasley has a unique combination of inside-outside play, but Hedo’s length should give Beasley some problems, given the fact that Beasley is much closer to 6’7″ than his listed 6’10”

Minnesota has played better ball recently, winning 4 of their last 10, but NBA oddsmakers have made them 7 point underdogs for tonight.  While they are decent at home, Orlando was 10-7 on the road before the last two games and seldom have trouble with sub par opponents on the road.

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