Orlando Magic to Cover NBA Odds at Boston

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 5:26 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Wednesday.

 

A scrappy young team that has improved its road play immensely over last season seems to hold value Wednesday night when those Orlando Magic (10-17, 7-11 away) pay a visit to the Boston Celtics (8-14, 5-8 home) at TD Garden in Boston, MA at 7:35 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - New England.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Orlando as a moderate road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3½ with odds of -103.


Almost Doubled Road Wins Already
The Magic had one of the worst records in the NBA last season and they won just four games away from home (4-37) including just one road win after January 1st, which came at league-worst Philadelphia. However, it was apparent that Orlando had a good young nucleus and the Magic have taken positive strides this season, especially with their seven road wins (7-11) already!

The Celtics have an eclectic mix of veteran Rajon Rondo running the point and leading the NBA with his 10.6 assists per game and mostly youngsters everywhere else, and the result has been a rather uneven 8-14 record for the season. To be fair, Boston has been the winning NBA pick in four of its last seven games following a 4-11 start.


Improved Defense and Balanced Offense
The Magic come off of a 95-82 road loss to the team with the best record in the East, the Toronto Raptors, on Monday, but they were in that game for the first three quarters actually leading by eight points at halftime and still trailing by only six points at the end of three before the Raptors outscored them 24-17 in the fourth quarter. Still, Orlando shot a good 48.5 percent for the game while holding the conference-leading Raptors to 44.6 percent.

Orlando has made nice strides on both ends of the court this season as that performance was not much of an anomaly. The defense had to improve after the Magic surrendered 102.0 points per game last season, and it has, allowing 99.0 points per game overall on 45.7 percent shooting, and the improvement had been even more obvious on the road where the Magic are allowing 97.7 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting.

The Magic are also much more balanced offensively as they have four players that are averaging at least 14.4 points. Three of them are progressing nicely after being with the team last season in Tobias Harris (18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds), Nikola Vucevic (18.3 points, 11.6 rebounds) and Victor Oladipo (15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists), while the fourth Evan Fournier (14.4 points, 39.3% three-point percentage) came over from Denver in the Arron Afflalo trade.

Fournier has now made at least one three-point basket in 32 straight games going back to last year with the Nuggets.


Not Much Defense in Boston
While the Magic have improved defensively, the Celtics have gone in the other direction, which is disappointing given their defensive-minded coach in Brad Stevens. Boston is currently 28th out of 30 NBA teams in points against at 105.6 per game, ranking 18th in field goal percentage allowed overall and 24th in three-point defense at 37.3 percent, which will be of particular concern with Fournier on the floor for Orlando.

Also the Celtics have not done a good job of protecting their home court like the good old days, currently sitting at 5-8 both straight up and ATS at TD Garden, and even more alarming is the fact that the defense has not played any better at home, allowing 105.2 points per game on 46.2 percent shooting.

Yes the Celtics have beaten the Magic seven straight times here at Boston, but this is the first time the teams are meeting this season and the talent level between the two squads is much closer now than it was during that home winning streak.


Lacking Depth at Guard
Finally the Celtics figure to be short-handed when it comes to backcourt depth tonight as guard Marcus Thornton is definitely out with a tear in his left calf and fellow guard, rookie Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State, is doubtful after missing the last game with an Achilles injury.

Look for the Magic to take this game right down to the final buzzer with an outright upset in Boston not beyond the realm of possibility on Wednesday.

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NBA Pick: Magic +3½ (-103)