Atlanta Hawks VS. Orlando Magic – NBA Playoff Pick & Preview: I don’t think they’re ever going to get it. The Atlanta Hawks are a match-up nightmare for Dwight Howard and company. Josh Smith and Al Horford both do well against whatever the Magic throw at them. Unless the Hawks get in a ton of foul trouble early, this game will continue to be a close, down-to-the-wire game where 8 points is just way too much to give up. I’m all about the dogs in this one!
The thing is, I’ve been this way since before the series started, putting everybody on watch for the Hawks to pull the upset… LOOK HERE! Now I didn’t flat out pick the Hawks to win the series, I actually thought the Magic might get it in 6, but I did label them “the best payout for an actual chance to win that you’ll get with an underdog.” If you were there to gamble, you’re looking pretty good right about now, with just under 5x your investment if the Hawks win any of the next 3 games. I like your (our) chances!
Right now, I’m looking for the Hawks to end this one on the road – and even if they don’t, a close game is most likely to take place. The Magic just don’t have that pull-away personality, and the Hawks play the right kind of ball to keep it close.
Stick with the points here, and the team that is currently 6-1 against the Magic over their last 7 games this season.
Atlanta Hawks (+7.5) @ Orlando Magic
A lot of people will tell you that they predicted the Hawks to beat the Magic, but very few of them have any proof of saying such a thing. Now, I didn’t predict the Hawks to win this series, but I did say this, “Now here’s one that could certainly happen, probably the best payout for an actual chance to win that you’ll get with an underdog.” If that’s not a ringing endorsement of what the Hawks can do, go read the rest of my preview HERE.
Atlanta has gotten the best of the Magic four straight times now, and I’m beginning to think that the Hawks front court is a tough match-up for Dwight and company to defend. I like the Magic to come out and get a win at home in this one, even the series at one game a piece, but I still think that spread is too much to cover.
Al Horford and Josh Smith both create tough match-up problems with Horford’s ability to hit the mid-range jumper and be physical in the post, and Smith’s physical gifts as a quick and athletic 6’8″ high flier. Joe Johnson seems to be heating up at the right time, and at the very least I expect a close game out of the Hawks in Orlando. This entire series will be tight, I just don’t know if the Magic know how to play any other way.
I like the points!
Atlanta Hawks (+8.5) @ Orlando Magic
NBA Betting Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic Pick & Preview: The Chicago Bulls have been running roughshod over the rest of the East these days, as evidenced by their clinching the #1 seed with their most recent victory. With that, there’s some sentiment that they may rest a little bit heading into the playoffs. That may be the case, but I doubt they’ll take this game off. A chance to once again state your case to the Magic seems like an opportunity too good for the Bulls to pass up. Plus, the Bulls are just starting to get in the swing of things after spending most of the season unhealthy – they still have work to do.
The Magic haven’t been bad lately, 7-3 over their last 10 games, but they aren’t the Bulls. If anyone can match up with Dwight Howard on the post, it’s Joakim Noah. His all energy style goes a long ways in this one.
I expect the Bulls to win on the road.
Chicago Bulls -5 @ Orlando Magic (4/10)
Orlando Magic @ New York Knicks NBA Free Pick & Preview: The Knicks have been throwing out some sweet excuses lately, talking dirty about how “it’ll take time” and how “this is new for them” – please. This is basketball, and Mike D’Antoni had some things to do with Melo and Billups playing ball for USA the last time they won gold in the Olympics. These guys know what they’re doing, they’re just not quite good enough at the things they are supposed to be doing.
Mike D’Antoni runs a pick and roll system where his players move and make kick out threes. The new guy the Knicks got to run their offense through is Carmelo Anthony, and he doesn’t do that. He gets a pass from his teammate, then holds the ball for a while, then makes a 1 on 1 move and usually he scores the basketball. He’s great at that. But he’s not a ball movement guy, and the Knicks have looked mighty stagnant at times. Will that ever change with Melo? Maybe. Soon? Probably not.
How are the Knicks going to stop Dwight Howard down low? They’re not. I’m guessing 30+ points and 15 rebounds for the new Superman. And he should be the difference in this game. I know the Knicks have played well against some good teams, even the first 3 quarters against the Celtics in their most recent loss, but the Magic are a different beast. They have the youth to run with the Knicks and the half court ability to score at ease.
Orlando Magic (-1.5) @ New York Knicks (ESPN) (3/23)
Orlando Magic @ Miami Heat Thursday ESPN NBA Free Pick: Miami hosts two major contenders in the Eastern Conference late in the week, the Orlando Magic first on Thursday Night, then the Chicago Bulls on Sunday Morning. I don’t know what to think about the Magic yet – as far as being a top-notch team back East, an actual title contender, but I know the Heat can’t get close to guarding Dwight Howard, and neither can the Celtics with Kendrick Perkins traded away to the Zombie Sonics (that’s from Bill Simmons, but it’s great enough to just go ahead and use). And if Brandon Bass plays healthy, the low post defense in Miami will really be tested.
Orlando is coming of a big win over the New York Knicks, something the Heat just couldn’t manage to do despite all their chances last Sunday. Add the Knicks up as just one more “good team” that stung the Heat, something that’s becoming a trend as the season rolls on. Orlando’s won 3 in a row, and 5 of their last 6 – including wins over Oklahoma City and the LA Lakers. Could they be finding consistency with their updated lineup?
I know Dwight has been playing some of the best basketball in his career – becoming a real force on the offensive end. But Miami is 2-1 against the Magic this season, including a 104-100 win in early February. This is the only “good” team that Miami has a winning record against. So will that disappear or is this the team they can handle?
I think Jameer Nelson is player too well of late. He’s been so efficient, and the clutch player this team needs when things are going south. Match that with Miami’s inability to slow opposing point guards, and I have to give the nod to the road team from Florida in this one.
Orlando Magic (+4.5) @ Miami Heat (ESPN) (3/3)
Oklahoma Thunder @ Orlando Magic ESPN Friday Night NBA Pick: The Magic didn’t do anything crazy at the trade deadline, but shoot, they had already been the trade kings of the first 50 games of the season, shipping off Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat, and Vince Carter’s shadow while bringing in Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, and Hedo Turkoglu. So far, they’ve had their ups and downs, that’s for sure, smacking around some of the league’s best then losing to some of the league’s worst. I’m still not sure how their roster will play out, but I’d be worried about the rest of the East passing them up, soon.
The Thunder are looking to rebound after falling to San Antonio on Wednesday Night while the Magic are coming off a 105-111 loss to the Sacramento Kings (who were without Tyreke Evans, their best player) in Orlando on Wednesday Night.
I don’t know if Dwight Howard can be matched athletically, or properly guarded, but if he can, Serge Ibaka has the kind of athleticism that could give Dwight trouble. I know the Magic will have a tough time staying in front of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. This one will be a shootout in Orlando.
I think Oklahoma has more upside, but right now, without the guy they traded for (Kendrick Perkins) and without their starting power forward who they traded (Jeff Green), they’ll be a little undermanned, and I think Dwight and Brandon Bass will cause too much havoc down low, giving them the advantage on Friday Night. 7 points seems like an awful lot, but I have to take the home team in a tough game to pick.
Oklahoma Thunder @ Orlando Magic (-7) (ESPN) (2/25)
Miami Heat @ Orlando Magic NBA Free Pick & Preview: The Heat and the Magic might very well be the most talented teams in the East. The Heat obviously have the Big 3, and the Magic, after their mid-season trade, have upped their player inventory with the likes of Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Gilbert Arenas. This should be a big battle, as the winner of the East will almost certainly have to get through Florida, one city or another.
Orlando had a nice little spurt there for a while right after the traded players got comfortable, but over the last 10, well I’m not that impressed. They’ve lost to Memphis (who’s playing decent), Chicago (who’s good), Detroit (who’s bad), and Boston (who’s good). They’ve won 6 games, but not one of those victories came against an opponent with a winning record. You have Cleveland, Indiana, Houston, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Minnesota. That’s not a group of wins that garners many rave reviews from me.
The Heat have had some ups and downs this year, but they’ve played well with their Big 3 in the line-up, and while the Heat don’t have a guy that can guard Dwight Howard, the big guy shouldn’t be able to finagle a win out of the game all by himself.
The Magic beat the Heat by 9 last time these two teams played, also in Orlando, but that was with solid play from Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass (9 for 12 with 18 points) – and Bass won’t be playing in this game, and Rashard was kicked to Washington DC. I don’t know how Hedo Turkoglu is going to match-up with LeBron James. I expect the Heat to get on a nice little winning streak here, upwards of 15-20 games – yes, they’ll start to figure it all out, and I think it starts with a big win – in this case, over Orlando.
Miami Heat (+1.5) @ Orlando Magic (TNT)
Orlando Magic @ Chicago Bulls Friday Night NBA Basketball Pick: The Magic and the Bulls are two of the best after the Celtics and Heat, and many people see both as possible players for the Eastern Conference Title. I know the Bulls are without Noah, a player who means a ton to them, especially against a guy like Howard – but this game still has some intrigue. Are the Magic playing well enough as a team to get Derrick Rose and the Bulls?
Last time these two teams played, December 1st, the Magic won 107-78 in Chicago, embarrassing the Bulls by out-rebounding them 44-21. That’s one of the most lopsided rebounding games I’ve seen all season. And that was when the Bulls had both Boozer and Noah healthy (though Boozer was just getting his legs under him and Noah did pull down ZERO rebounds in 25 minutes). The Magic also had a different roster as Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, and Marcin Gortat were still on the team. But I don’t see them getting out-worked by Chicago on the glass despite the different circumstances now. The Bulls are without Noah, and the Magic play a better rebounder (Bass) more now that Lewis is in Washington.
The Bulls have won 8 of 10 while the Magic are just 6-4 in their last 10 games. Derrick Rose has been very impressive and Kurt Thomas has filled in nicely of late, though I don’t know who has a chance against Dwight Howard in this one.
Expect the Magic to pound it in the post and win easily if Dwight stays out of foul trouble. Rose is also “questionable” so that’s just one more piece of the puzzle working for the Magic.
Orlando Magic (-1) @ Chicago Bulls (1/28)
A few games ago I couldn’t have imagined the Orlando Magic winning even one game, let alone two games, and now three? Yikes, I’m teetering like a kindergartner here. But it’s impossible for me to ignore what I’ve seen – two teams that completely flipped for real, Orlando taking on the confident, unbeatable, and aggressive persona that Boston used to run out to a 3-0 lead in this series. And it’s that switch that has me on the move, taking Orlando to win Game 6 and wiggle one game closer to history.
Somewhere along the line (I’m thinking between Game 3 and Game 4) the Magic decided to test the Celtics where Boston struggles most, attacking the basket. Boston’s rotations are really good, they move to the open shooter well, but with guys running out recklessly they are relatively easy to drive past. Orlando has attacked, and thus they are winning.
This game will be closer, no doubt about it, Boston isn’t going to just give up in a big time must win Game 6 at home. And they might very well win this game – I give it almost 50-50 here. But with Rasheed Wallace hurting, Big Baby in limbo, and Rajon Rondo not playing that elite basketball that skyrocketed his name to “The Best Point Guard in the NBA” lists everywhere – the 0-3 to 4-3 no chance in hell might just get Boston in the gotcha… I’ll take the points, as few as they may be.
Orlando Magic (+3.5) @ Boston Celtics
Like I said in my weekly newsletter, the Magic are lucky to be here. They fended off the broom with a whole lot of luck and dining on the worst game Boston has played since the Cavaliers blew them out early in their series with the Cavs. They needed some big time shots by JJ Redick, a bank three by Jameer Nelson (from the wing, meaning it was both off line and way long), a stagnant offense from the Celtics, and mediocre defense from a Boston team that has stopped everyone during these playoffs. Oh, and they needed overtime and all those things to come out victorious. Seriously.
If that’s not enough, how about the fact that Boston is better than Orlando. If this series hasn’t shown that, it’s shown nothing at all. Boston may be older, but they are so much wiser. Everybody is playing at the top of their games, and offensively they are too tough for Orlando to deal with.
Dwight Howard won’t go off for 30+ points against in Game 5, I can all but guarantee that. Rajon Rondo won’t play his worst game of the post-season, and the Celtics will play with more precision on both sides of the ball. If Orlando can stick out the Celtics’ best shot – then they might have a chance to pull a Boston Red Sox comeback on the Boston Celtics – the first time ever.
However, I don’t see any of those things happening. It all ends tonight in Orlando. The Celtics are a 4-point dog against a team they’ve beaten twice at home. Boston is a better road team than they are at home. Boston is better. After a Game 4 win got them out of sweep-mode, you can bet the Magic will slow down a little in Game 5. Take the easy win here, Boston by 8 to 12 points is my guess.
Boston Celtics (+4) @ Orlando Magic (5-26: 8:30 PM ET – ESPN)