Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 19:
26-29-1 ATS, 0-5 ML (minus-10.35 units), 36-22-1 Totals
Toronto (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) at Orlando (1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Sunday, 7:00 p.m. ET, TNT
Free NBA Pick: Over
Recommended Sportsbook: 5Dimes
The Orlando Magic are about as pesky as a basketball team can get. They erased the early double-digit lead built by the Toronto Raptors during Game 3 on Friday, and they nearly came back from a late 17-point deficit before losing 98-93. That was still good enough to cover as 5.5-point home dogs on the NBA odds board.
Most impressively, they made Kawhi Leonard look like a total chump in Game 3. Leonard was smothered repeatedly, but stubbornly kept at it; he shot 5-of-19 on the night and turned the ball over six times, which allowed Orlando to stay in the hunt and eventually earn the cover. We expect better from Leonard in Game 4, but we’re not prepared to recommend the Raptors for your NBA picks, not with the spread holding firm at –5.5 as we go to press.
Shadows And Tall Trees
Maybe we’ll change our minds if the Raptors get down to –4 before tip-off. The projections at FiveThirtyEight have Toronto pegged at –6, so if enough people fade the Raps, we might get that 2-point gap we’re looking for between the projections and the actual odds. They’re already available at –5 at a handful of locations. It could happen.
We’ll take our chances with the ‘over’ instead. Yes, the Magic have used their frontcourt length to stymie Toronto in two of their three games thus far, and all three have gone ‘under’ the posted total by a fair amount. But the total for Game 4 is down to 207 at press time, 4.5 points fewer than Friday night. And there’s ample room for positive regression when it comes to Leonard’s performance.
It isn’t just Kawhi, either. The Magic shot 13-of-44 (29.5 percent) from downtown in Game 3, including 1-of-8 from Evan Fournier (minus-0.4 OBPM, minus-1.1 DBPM) and 1-of-4 from D.J. Augustin (plus-1.7 OBPM, minus-2.0 DBPM). This is not a defensively stout backcourt by any means; Fournier and especially Augustin need to hit their shots for Orlando to win, and they’ll probably hit more of them in Game 4.
This is still a speculative wager, though, so we’re only recommending a small bet on the ‘over’ for Sunday’s matchup. Patrick McCaw (minus-2.0 OBPM, plus-2.1 DBPM) didn’t play in Game 3, even though he was upgraded to “probable’ after having the splint on his injured thumb removed; McCaw might end up playing some of those spare minutes that Jodie Meeks (plus-1.4 OBPM, minus-2.2 DBPM) got in the first three games. A small point, yes, but every little bit counts, especially in these tight spots.