Latest Developments Makes Magic +3 Our NBA Pick Over Hawks

Jason Lake

Sunday, February 7, 2016 12:08 PM GMT

The Atlanta Hawks are laying 3.5 points on the road this Sunday against the Orlando Magic. The NBA odds might be overdoing it – especially if Tobias Harris plays.

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NBA Pick: Magic +3
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline



Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 6: 19-23-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

 

You snooze, you lose. The Orlando Magic opened as 4.5-point home dogs for Sunday's matinee (1:00 p.m. ET) against the Atlanta Hawks, and just when we were about to put the Magic in our NBA picks here at the ranch, they moved to +3.5. Shazbot. We'll just have to take what we can get. But why the Magic? Glad you asked.

 

Silver Polish
Firstly, Nate Silver and the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight project Atlanta as a 1-point road chalk using their Elo-based model – actually, it's a mismash of Elo and Silver's newish CARMELO player projections. Think of it as PECOTA for basketball players. Math makes my brain hurt these days, but if I recall correctly, 1 is less than 3.5.

Let's get a second stat-nerd opinion, shall we? Basketball-Reference has the Hawks (+2.11 SRS) pegged at around four points higher than the Magic (–1.87 SRS) on their Simple Rating System. I've been using the old-school four points for home-court advantage lately, but as I was reminded recently when I looked at Saturday's Sharks-Predators game, home isn't what it used to be. Let's make it 3.5 points going forward, although we're still going to end up with a kayfabe spread around Atlanta –1 in this case.

 

Left Eye Harris
So why the gap? Market forces, probably. The Hawks (30-22 SU, 26-25-1 ATS) were the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference last year, and they're still No. 1 in the Southeast Division. They've also won three games in a row SU and ATS after an up-and-down January. The Magic (21-28 SU, 26-22-1 ATS) were one of the worst teams in the East last year, and they're still at the bottom of the Southeast standings. They've also lost three games in a row after a pretty awful January.

True, but the Magic covered two of their last three games, on the road against tough opponents. They played a good game against the San Antonio Spurs (–15.5) before fading late and losing 107-92. Then they almost beat the Oklahoma City Thunder (–11.5), who needed a last-second 3-pointer from Kevin Durant to win 117-114. No shame in those results.

Do not sleep on the Magic. Granted, they went 3-12 SU and ATS last month to wipe out most of their early-season profits. However, only three of those 12 losses were against underdogs. Also, it looks like forward Tobias Harris (15.7 PER, +0.7 BPM) will play for Orlando on Sunday after he suffered a cut above his left eye on Friday. Meanwhile, Hawks center Tiago Splitter (14.0 PER, –1.0 BPM) could be out for a while with recurring calf/hip issues. With these developments, at these NBA odds, yes, we do believe in Magic.