Pro Basketball Picks: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Handicapping Preview

Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic
Saturday, 12/18/10, 7:00 PM EDT
Opening Point Spread:  Orlando -10
Current Betting Line:  Orlando -9.5
Opening Total:  188
Current Total:  189.5

The Orlando Magic are 9.5-point home favorites on Saturday night for good reason due to winning 12 of the last 13 meetings against Philadelphia

Philadelphia was unable to hold a four point lead heading into the fourth quarter of a 93-81 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.  The Sixers were outscored 35-19 in the final quarter, but have still won five of their last seven games.  “I told our guys I was incredibly proud of them,” said head coach Doug Collins.  “We played a terrific defensive game against one of the best offensive teams in the league.”  The team now embarks on a season-high eight-game road trip, which is the longest since the 1989-90 season.  Philadelphia is 2-10 on the road, including a 2-7 mark against Eastern Conference opponents.  It’s early in the season, but the squad’s 17-7 ATS mark is very impressive and are a road underdog on the NBA lines page on Saturday.

The Sixers have lost 12 of the last 13 meetings against the Magic, including eight straight.  Offensively, both teams have scored 100-plus points in four of the last five games in the series, with the club averaging 103.8 points per game against tonight’s opponent during the 2009-10 series.  Center Spencer Hawes has played a big part in the team’s improvement this season, especially over the last three games by averaging 17.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.  He will be matched up against Orlando All-Star center Dwight Howard, who averaged 26.3 points and 14.2 boards in six games while facing Hawes during his time in Sacramento.

Orlando returns home after dropping three of four road games and head coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t very happy.  “If our defense doesn’t change, we’ll keep getting beat,” he commented.  “We won the last three years because we were one of the best defensive teams in the league.  I don’t see the desire to do that anymore.”  In the three losses to Portland, Utah and Denver, the club allowed 97, 117 and 111 points.  Tonight’s contest may come down to scoring and it doesn’t hurt that Orlando managed to average 120.0 points on 56.6 percent shooting against the Sixers last year.  The club is 9-16 ATS on the year and 0-4 ATS off an upset loss as a favorite.

The Magic are a dominating 56-26 all-time against the Sixers, including an 0-4 mark last season.  Orlando has also won 10 of the last 12 meetings at home in the series.  It’s not all bad in the sunshine state for tonight’s host due to possessing a 9-3 record at the new Amway Center this season.  Orlando is a superb 100-35 under Van Gundy’s direction on its home court.  As noted earlier, the defensive unit hasn’t been very good of late, but still ranks fourth in the NBA by allowing 92.7 points per game.

Bettors will be interested in the 76ers being 7-0 ATS versus the Eastern Conference, while the Magic are 8-3 ATS on three or more days of rest.

The NBA handicappers at Maddux Sports are on fire and ready to continue the winning on Saturday night!

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