NBA Picks: Points Will Be At A Premium In Pacers vs. Magic Clash

Jay Pryce

Sunday, February 21, 2016 1:13 PM GMT

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 1:13 PM GMT

The Magic seek to avenge two early season losses to the Pacers on Sunday, but have had major difficulties finding points against Indiana. Check out our NBA picks here.

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Free NBA Pick: Under 200½
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

Indiana Pacers (29-25 SU, 27-26-1 ATS)
Indiana's 101-98 triumph over the Thunder Friday as an 8-point underdog was its first outright upset of a team in its last 14 attempts. One has to go all the way back to late November and the Pacers undoing of the Wizards in D.C. 123-106 as 2.5-point dogs otherwise.

Indiana is a middling team following a blazing start in which they went 12-5 SU and ATS to tip off the season. They have slumped to a 17-20 SU and 15-21-1 record since. Paul George is the centerpiece (23.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.1 apg), but the team struggles to field a lineup around him to win consistently. Head coach Frank Vogel goes big in some games (his preference), yet small in others to spread the court and push the pace—a strategy team president Larry Bird likes to see.

Indiana’s defense takes center stage when playing a team with a better opponent shooting percentage. Under this scenario, the unit steps up, holding opponents to 96.4 points a night. It has prevented teams from reaching their team total in 18 of 23 games. The strong defensive efforts have the Pacers at 16-7 ATS in this situation. When playing teams who yield a poorer shooting percentage, things go haywire for the unit. Orlando enters the contest allowing 44.5 percent from the floor (14th in the NBA), worse than the Pacers 44.2 mark (ninth). Allowing 103 points per game, Indiana is 11-18-1 ATS, letting 17 of 30 opponents to go over their team total.

 

Orlando Magic (24-29 SU, 31-22 ATS)
After a 110-104 victory over the Mavericks Friday night, the Magic have covered the spread in seven of their last eight games, after failing to do so in seven of the prior eight. They've been one of the most bet-friendly teams in the NBA this season. Orlando's 31 covers is the third most behind the Celtics (32) and Spurs (33).

Veteran guard Brandon Jennings, who came over from Detroit just days ago, made an instant impact against Dallas with 18 points and four assists in the win. With one game under his belt, he leads the team in scoring. The Magic play a deep rotation without any elite scorer on the team. Including Jennings, seven guys average double-digit points to make up the team's 99.6 per contest.

One area of the game that can make a big difference for investors wagering on the Magic is their performance from the charity stripe. Despite a different offensive system and fresh defensive scheme, new head coach Scott Skiles can not help this bunch get to the free-throw line—a problem that has plagued the team in recent years. Both its 18.6 attempts and 14.3 makes per game rank dead last in the league. On D, they operate right around average, sending players to the line 23.0 times per night (13th). Its probably not a good sign to see teams making more free throws a night than Orlando can generate. Nonetheless, when the Magic square off against a foe allowing less than 75 percent from the charity stripe, they are 14-6 ATS as opposed to 16-17 ATS against teams averaging higher. The Pacers 73.8 percent is fourth best in the NBA.

 

Final Analysis
Bettors have to go back 18 meetings to find a matchup where the Magic hit the century mark in scoring against Indiana. The Pacers have taken the last six in row straight up and against the spread, including two this year (97-84, 95-86). The Magic are streaking, but they were more sellers than buyers at the All Star break, which is a concern--both Tobias Harris and veteran Channing Frye were shipped out at the deadline. I'd like to see this team get a few more minutes with Slam-Dunk hero Aaron Gordon starting down low before thinking they can gel and drop 100 or more on Sunday for the first time in ages. And with SBROdds showing all current line prices from all sportsbooks' NBA odds boards, UNDER 200.5 -110 is definitely the NBA pick.

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