Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets
Time: 6:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: ORL -4
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Orlando Magic may have lost four straight, but its last win came against tonight’s opponent: The Brooklyn Nets. The Magic truly need this game for morale and because the schedule stays brutal for the first part of 2016. The Magic are 4-point favorites in the game which will air at 6:30 Central on NBA League Pass.
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The Magic did all it could to end that streak against the Indiana Pacers on Wed night, but Orlando hit just 6 of 31 from three-point range and shot 37 percent from the floor in the game. The Magic continued to launch jumpers most of the game, with few falling. Victor Oladipo hit 4 of 7 from three-point range and led Orlando with 20 points, but it was just not enough to defeat Monta Ellis and the Pacers. The Magic fell to 19-17 with the loss.
The Magic may be looking to tinker when the trade deadline comes. First on its list of needs is a veteran leader capable of injecting some experience into the team. The Magic are one of the NBA’s youngest clubs, and its entire core is youthful talent like Tobias Harris, Evan Fournier, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic.
Payton is a gifted leader, but he is still just in his second year. He has battled ankle injuries and sat out the last two games with Oladipo getting the start at the point.
The result has not been good for Orlando’s offense, and Payton’s 5.9 assists per game are missed. Payton is not expected to play in tonight’s affair either, and with C.J. Watson out too, that leaves Scott Skiles scrambling for answers at the 1. Mario Hezonja has seen some time at point and Shabazz Napier is a true point guard, but the Magic are hurting for playmaking now. Evan Fournier can help with that at times.
Nikola Vucevic is having a good season but does not even rank in the top-15 of Frontcourt players in All-Star voting. The center from Montenegro is averaging 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while posting a PER of 22.2. His skill set is so developed and he is versatile, soft shooting, and a force on the boards typically. Vucevic had seen his role reduced but really got cooking coinciding with the Magic’s recent five-game win streak.
Vucevic posted 20 points or more in eight consecutive games but over the four-game skid he has averaged just 13.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting. Vucevic is also attempting just 13.6 field goals over the last five games, and his last good game did come against Brooklyn in fact. In that 100-93 win Vucevic had 20 points and nine rebounds while outplaying the vaunted Brook Lopez.
The Nets are just 10-25 and on a fast track to the lottery. Joe Johnson could prove an attractive trade chip in February since he is on an expiring $24 million deal that will help either the Nets or another team shed a ton of cap space. Johnson has declined in many ways, but he could still help a number of teams with his 10.9 points, four rebounds and three assists per game.
Johnson still plays 34.7 minutes a night for the Nets, and it seems even likely that the team tries to get some assets for his contract.
Brooklyn also could be shopping Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. The team is about to go through a complete rebuild, and it should because nothing is working and Mikhail Prokhorov’s approach of trying to buy a title failed predictably. The Nets are not in a good situation with regard to picks and cap room, but making moves that could better the team are still very much in play.