Miami Heat at Orlando Magic
Time: 7:05 PM ET
Spread: MIA -2.5
Betting odds c/o Bookmaker
The Orlando Magic have been playing better basketball under head coach James Borrego, who replaced Jacque Vaughn and has guided the team to a 4-2 SU mark since taking over. The Magic have won three-straight at home, but are not getting the respect from NBA oddsmakers, who set the NBA live line 2.5 points in favor of Erik Spoelstra’s Miami Heat. The Heat are playing without All-Star forward Chris Bosh was who was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and is ruled out for the season.
The total is set at 198.5 for this game. For an explanation of how to bet this, check our NBA odds explained.
Even so, this is a Miami team that aggressively pursued, and obtained, All-Star guard Goran Dragic at the trade deadline. The Heat surrendered two first round picks, indicative of the fact that the Heat will likely award him with his market-value max-contract this summer. Dragic should enable Dwyane Wade to extend his career by allowing Wade to focus on being more opportunistic. In short, Dragic can score the basketball.
Playing in a crowded Phoenix Suns backcourt this season, his usage rate dipped and affected his overall numbers, but his play is steady, solid and impressive. The Houston Rockets were vying to bring him back to H-Town for the same reason: he’s evolved into one of the league’s premier multifacted guards. Accenting Dragic and Wade for the remainder of this season is Hassan Whiteside, who has been nothing short of a beast since receiving his first starts this season. He’ll have a tough task tonight in Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, however. Vucevic has averaged 19.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game (3.3 offensive). He’s the franchise big man for Orlando, a team whose best strength lies in its defensive backcourt.
Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo are becoming a defensive terror of a tandem, and Payton in particular has been demolishing opposing guards on the ball, even forcing an eight-second violation on Tyreke Evans in the Magic’s win over New Orleans. The Magic are trying to figure out how to integrate a rusty Tobias Harris, who is probable to play despite persistent soreness in his knee. Harris struggled badly in the Magic’s victory and at this point it has to be wondered if the team might not benefit from playing rookie Aaron Gordon more.
Gordon is a high energy game changer and can initiate the break by himself given his ball handling and rebounding talents. He’s a lot like a lower impact Blake Griffin in that respect, and expect the Arizona product to continue to get more minutes as the season rolls on. Fallen out of rotation has been 4/5-man Kyle O’Quinn, who recorded a DNP and 1 minute in the Magic’s last two games. He’s a skilled power forward and undersized center, but a restricted free agent at season’s end. The Magic may be priced out of keeping his services, and given both his high post passing and rim protection, there will be a team seeking to pay O’Quinn. The Magic may feel that DeWayne Dedmon makes Kyle expendable.
Dedmon is a much cheaper option, coming at less than one million per season, and he’s a high energy hustle player who can terrorize teams on the offensive glass. Dedmon is not a skilled post player, but the Magic have scoring options to allow Dedmon to just focus on finishing around the basket. With regards to finishing, the Magic have to do better at converting Payton’s passes.
Though he neared a triple-double with an 11 assist effort last week, he had 18 assist opportunities, and it is mostly teammates blowing looks around the basket. When Payton’s passes result in two free throws, the stat sheet fails to reflect the way the UL-Layfayette talent is dishing the rock. Even so, the Magic have been better at getting out in transition and this is where his talents should shine. Oladipo is a great finisher and Vucevic has soft touch around the basket.
This Magic team can internally improve to become a formidable team, and its 4-2 SU record under Borrego speaks to that. Bettors may not be foolish to consider only a moneyline bet on the dogs in this one, because the Heat are going to struggle without Bosh in the lineup. Miami is already consistently at the bottom of all rebounding categories, and Whiteside just can’t get them all. Orlando averages 9.1 offensive rebounds per game, and if the Magic are able to put that into the 12-14 range, the club should win this one.