Orlando (+775) vs. Toronto (-1100)
Regular Season Record: Series Tied 2-2 SU and Magic 3-1 ATS
Series Starts Saturday, 5:00 p.m., EDT
Free NBA Pick: Raptors
Recommended Sportsbook: BetOnline
Does Orlando Have A Chance?
Back in late March I went to see the Magic play in Indianapolis against the Pacers. Indiana had been in free fall mode and was trying to keep ahold of the fourth seed in the East.
Orlando came in and among Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross, and Nikola Vucevic, they wiped the floor with the Pacers.
The Raptors are not Indiana, but the same problems that Orlando gave Indiana in that game I saw a few weeks ago, are the same issues that Toronto will be faced with in this series.
Orlando may have one of the best all-around offensive centers in the game in Vucevic, and Gordon is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
Those two matching up against the trio of Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka is going to be one to watch. I think the advantage is squarely with the Magic’s frontcourt, but will it be enough to slow down the very talented guard and wing combinations of Toronto?
It all starts with Kawhi Leonard going against the now healthy Jonathan Isaac. The young forward was just cleared from the NBA concussion protocol, and his defense is going to make or break this series for Orlando. If Isaac can bother Kawhi Leonard and keep him from getting 25 to 30 points every night, the Magic have a chance.
How Does Orlando Slow Down Toronto’s Stars?
The problems arise for Orlando if Isaac is getting worked by Leonard. I don’t think that will happen, but Kawhi Playoff Mode is a different beast that the 21 year-old Isaac has not seen before in his young career.
If Isaac is losing that matchup, it might be a quick series. As much as I like D.J. Augustin, he will not be able to guard Kyle Lowry and there is also the issue of Danny Green being an excellent defender against Evan Fournier.
There is also the conundrum of getting Ross’s offense in the game. To do that you either have to sacrifice having Fournier’s offense or Isaac’s defense on the floor to do it. That could lead to Leonard just going bananas on the offensive end or the Magic falling in some slumps offensively against an also talented defensive team.
The Sharp Pick
As much as I like Damon Jones as an analyst and a player, I think he is a bit too bullish on the Magic. As good of a story as they are, they are not going to beat the Raptors if Leonard plays like he has time and again in playoff runs with the Spurs.
I do think the Magic win one of their first two home games. They are too talented to not win at least one game in this series. However, one may be their limit if the Raptors protect home court and Leonard can take over Game 3 or 4 in Orlando.
My Pick: Raptors in 5