How might this late-season bout fall along the pointspread, or the total? And where might the money be made betting this contest?
NBA Free Picks
The Boston Celtics are almost locked into their playoff spot. With one win in their last three games, or one more loss by the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston will become the seven seed in the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce sat out Friday night, and while they're expected to play Saturday when the 40-39 Celtics hit Orlando for a game with the 20-59 Magic (7 pm ET), there's no guarantee.
For clues, and a free NBA pick, read on.
Celtics-Magic Betting Odds
As of early Saturday morning basketball books were holding off on lining this game, presumably until more certain news of just who's going to play becomes available before setting the betting odds.
Boston fell at Miami Friday night 109-101, as Garnett and Pierce, who are both dealing with sore ankles, sat out. But playing shorthanded, and against the Heat's big three, the Celtics covered the spread as 12-point dogs on the NBA betting odds.
Also, with the two teams combining to shoot 51 percent from the floor, the game played OVER its total of 195.
Still, the Celtics have lost two in a row, three of their last four, five of their last seven and 10 of their last 14.
So big-picture, at 40-39 (35-41 ATS) the Celts are just about locked into the seven spot in the East, which would send them to New York to open the playoffs against the Knicks. They're three games back of sixth-place Chicago, but can't catch the Bulls because of the tie-breaker. Boston is also three games ahead of eighth-place Milwaukee.
The Celtics need one more victory to to avoid having to play Miami in the first round of the playoffs.
Orlando, on the other hand, has been playing out the string on this season for quite some time now. In its first campaign since parting ways with Dwight Howard the Magic are headed for their worst record in a decade.
Orlando actually did Boston a small favor Wednesday night, rallying late to tie the game, then beating Milwaukee in overtime 113-103. The Magic shot eight-for-15 from 3-point range, in breaking a five-game losing streak.
Just before Christmas Orlando won four games in a row to get to 12-13; since then the Magic have gone 8-46.
Celtics-Magic Betting Trends
Boston is just 13-25 SU and 14-24 ATS on the road this season.
Orlando is 12-27 SU and 14-25 ATS at home.
The OVER/UNDERS are 40-38 in Celtics games this season, which have averaged 193 points.
The totals are 41-34 in Magic games, which have averaged 195 points.
The Celtics are 20-15 both SU and ATS since losing PG Rajon Rondo for the season to a knee injury. But as indicated above, those records have gotten steadily worse over the last month.
Celtics-Magic Season Series
Boston has beaten Orlando twice already this season, by scores of 116-110 in overtime back in November, and 97-84 in February. Garnett and Rondo played big parts in that first Celtics victory, while the Boston defense suffocated the Magic in the second win.
Garnett and Pierce both sat out Friday's game at Miami; as of Saturday morning we don't know for sure if they're going to play Saturday night, or how much. Those interested in betting this game should proceed with caution.
On the other side of the scorer's table Orlando G Jameer Nelson has missed recent action with a sprained ankle; his status for Saturday is also uncertain. And Arron Afflalo, who leads the Magic in scoring, tore a hammy three weeks ago and is out for the season.
Free NBA Pick
We don't know if Garnett or Pierce are going to play; Orlando's got its own injury problems. And who knows about the motivation of either of these teams? As of mid-Saturday morning no book we knew of had lined this game, and for good reason.
Orlando had a pretty good shooting night vs. Milwaukee Wednesday, but that won't happen tonight. In thinking this one might get ugly, our lean is most likely toward the UNDER with bookmaker.... When it comes out.[gameodds]5/224634/93-43-139-19-999996/us[/gameodds]