Playing through that nasty Paul George injury the Pacers have wormed their way into the Eastern Conference playoff race. And they get a very winnable game Tuesday night at home against Orlando. But can they cover nine points?
Magic-Pacers Betting Odds
The line on this game was late to the NBA odds board, because of the injury situations with both teams. The first book to put a spread to this game was BetOnline, which opened Indiana -11, then quickly dropped the Pacers to -9.5.
BetOnline also opened the total on this game at 188.5.
Magic-Pacers: The Situation
Indiana has won five games in a row, and 11 of its last 13, after beating New York Saturday 92-86. The Pacers actually trailed the lowly Knicks by six with nine minutes to go, but ended the game on a 25-13 run for the win. However, they couldn't cover the spread at -9.
Indiana shot just 38 percent from the field, but hit 25-for-30 from the free-throw line.
That victory came just one night after the Pacers knocked off Chicago 98-84, covering at home at -6.
Going back to about five weeks ago Indiana is 10-3 ATS during its recent hot streak.
At 28-34 overall the Pacers are tied with Charlotte for the seven-eight spots in the Eastern Conference. But there's little room for error; Miami is only a half-game back in the nine spot, with Boston two games back and Brooklyn 2.5 games behind.
Orlando had lost four in a row, but has won its last two, after coming from behind to beat Boston Sunday 103-98. The Magic, playing shorthanded, trailed by 20 early in the second quarter, rallied to take a lead late in the third, and later finished the game on a 23-14 run for the outright victory as three-point road dogs.
Orlando shot 44 percent from the floor, and held the Celtics to 39 percent shooting.
Last Friday the Magic won at Sacramento 119-114; just before that they lost a tough game at Phoenix 105-100.
Ultimately, at 21-43 Orlando is playing out the string on a third-straight losing season.
Indiana has taken seven of the last eight meetings with Orlando SU, going 6-2 ATS. The Pacers are already 2-0 both SU and ATS against the Magic this season, winning 98-83 in Indianapolis back in November, then 106-99 in Orlando in January. The Pacers covered that first meeting at -5, and the second meeting at -2.
Magic-Pacers, By the Numbers
Orlando ranks 10th in the league in FG shooting at just under 46 percent, and 10th in 3-point shooting at 35 percent, but 28th in FG defense, allowing foes to shoot a shade above 46 percent.
Indiana ranks 23rd in shooting at just under 44 percent, but sixth in FG defense, holding opponents to 43 percent shooting.
Also, the Pacers rank seventh in rebounding at +2.5 per game, while the Magic rank 24th at -2.1 per game.
Indiana is 16-14 both SU and ATS at home this season.
Orlando is 10-22 SU but 21-11 ATS on the road.
Indiana is 32-29 on the totals this season, even as Pacers games have averaged just 192 points. They were a lop-sided 32-22 on the totals, but have played seven UNDERS in a row, as that trend skewed back toward .500. Indiana has also held each of its last five opponents to 86 points or less.
Orlando is 30-33 on the totals, as Magic games have averaged 197 points.
Indiana is still playing without Paul George, and at the moment Roy Hibbert is dealing with an illness, and could also miss tonight's game.
On the other side of the scorers' table Orlando C Nikola Vucevik (20 points, 11 boards PG) has missed recent action with a bad ankle, and is questionable for tonight. And guards Evan Fournier and Luke Ridnour are both iffy with ailments of their own. The Magic are a little banged up at the moment.
There's no reason to over-think this one; Indiana has the better team, the hotter team, with more to play for. Nine points might seem like a bit much, but the Pacers should be able to handle it, so back them with your NBA picks.
Free NBA Pick: Indiana -9.5 at BetOnline