Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards
Time: 6 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: WAS -1.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Washington Wizards captured the first two meetings against Orlando and will look to win its third straight of the season against the 19-13 Orlando Magic.
Washington is 1.5 point favorites in the game which will air on NBA League Pass at 6 PM Central.
Key to slowing the Orlando Magic will be Marcin Gortat’s play against center Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic comes in with seven-straight games of 20 points or more, and Gortat will be charged with the role of slowing the Magic’s dominant post threat.
Gortat has been playing well in his own right over the Wizards’ last five games. He had a 27 point, 16 rebound effort in a 113-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Dec 21. Over his last 10 games he is averaging 16 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals/blocks per game, while the Wizards have gone 5-5 over that span.
The Wizards come in riding a two-game skid that saw the team fall to the L.A. Clippers and Toronto Raptors. John Wall is No. 2 in scoring at 19.6 points per game and once again is doing a great job of setting the table for his teammates with 9.8 assists per game. Wall is also in the league leader’s for steals with 2.2 per game and an additional 0.8 blocks from the 1-spot. Over his past five games he has averaged 13.6 assists per game and he had 19 in the win over Sacramento on Dec 21. Wall was just 8 of 23 from the floor in the loss to the Raptors, and he missed all six of his threes.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic has elevated his game back to near-All-Star levels again though he is nowhere to be found in the leaders for frontcourt All-Star voting. If he makes a strong showing though between now and February, he could be selected as a reserve by the coaches. Vucevic is now averaging 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while coming up with 1.84 blocks/steals per game and posting a PER of 23.0. He is Orlando’s premier talent and head coach Scott Skiles has clearly made a point to get him more involved offensively.
The Magic frequently go to Vucevic for the first touch of both halves, and he delivers when he gets the ball low. He is shooting 53.2 percent from the floor this year, and doing so with an array of both post moves and step back jumpers.
The Magic have also got strong play from Evan Fournier and Tobias Harris, both of whom average 14 points per game. Harris has improved his efficiency and is thriving as a true combo forward, while Fournier has made a clear focus of looking more for his own offense this season.
Fournier is a free agent at season’s end, and he is sure to command near max-money with a line and skill set at least equal to that of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton. Fournier rightfully turned down Orlando’s $10 million offer because he will make more than that this summer. Harris meanwhile is locked up after signing this offseason, and the Magic likely feel that his offensive contributions at least warrant the money that they spent on him.
The Magic’s most heralded talent Victor Oladipo has become its sixth man.
The former Indiana Hoosier is averaging 12.3 point and 1.81 steals/blocks per game while igniting the Magic’s second unit. Oladipo’s shooting stats are poor, but he has been a disruptive force on the defensive end of the court. And the Magic are better when he is in, igniting breaks and getting things going by taking the ball to the basket.
Oladipo still is not that adept at drawing contact, but Victor has taken over games with his ball hounding and active hands. Combining his defensive prowess with point guard Elfrid Payton makes the Magic a defensive snake that oppositions struggle with. Payton played just five minutes in the Magic’s win over Brooklyn, fighting both a sprained ankle and illness. His status and minute restrictions are not known yet, as he was initially labelled questionable.