Two teams both coming off of their first win of the season hook up in Houston, and look for the young Magic to carry the momentum from last night to an ATS cover vs. the Rockets.
In a matchup of two teams both coming off of their first win of the year, the rather decided road underdogs playing the second of a back-to-back could hold the value Wednesday night when those young Orlando Magic (1-3, 4-0 ATS) pay a visit to the Houston Rockets (1-3, 1-3 ATS) at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX at 8:05 ET in a game available on ROOT.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Orlando as a nice-sized road underdog for this contest with the current line at +8 with odds of -105.
Harden Finally Busts Out
The Rockets were dreadful in their first three games this season losing all three of them by exactly 20 points with the NBA MVP runner-up from last season James Harden shooting just 22.2 percent from the field. However, Harden quickly found his stroke on Monday by pouring in 37 points and the end result was a 110-105 upset of the previously unbeaten Thunder as a 4½-point underdog to get Houston into the win column.
The Magic have followed a similar pattern straight up as they were also the losing NBA picks in their first three games before winning their fourth game, with the Orlando victory coming last night on the road 103-94 over the Pelicans in New Orleans. The difference between these two teams though is that while the Rockets lost each of their first three games by 20 points, the three Magic losses were by a combined total of nine points!
Perfect ATS So Far
As you might expect with those narrow losses, the Magic are now a perfect 4-0 ATS after finally breaking through with the straight up win last night, and what makes that ATS mark the more impressive is that three of the first four games have come vs. 2014-15 playoff teams and the fourth game was vs. one of the favorites in the tougher Western Conference this year in the now fully healthy Thunder of Oklahoma City.
Given how weak the Eastern Conference is, Orlando just might make a playoff run as a lower seed this season and this team looks to have a bright future with possible bigger things ahead in the coming years. The Magic have a solid starting five including one of the most underrated centers in the NBA in Nikola Vucevic, whose all-around game should make him better known as he can score, rebound, pass and defend as well as any big man in the league.
Then there is a fine young backcourt of Elfrid Payton, who is one of the most promising true point guards in the game with his passing and defending ability, and Victor Oladipo as the shooting guard, who can do it all. The starting five is rounded out with a pair of potentially prolific scorers up front in Tobias Harris and Evan Fournier, and the end result has been a team that is averaging 103.2 points per game and is nine points from being 4-0 vs. a tough schedule.
And on top of all this the Magic added some needed guard depth this off-season in the forms of C.J. Watson and Shabazz Napier, joining the likes of Aaron Gordon and Channing Frye to form a very competent bench.
Rockets are Still Defenseless
The Rockets probably overachieved with their run to the Western Conference Finals last year and that has prompted more than a few experts to predict that Houston will go ‘under’ its posted win total for this season. And after watching the “performance” of the defense over the first four games, it is rather easy to see why there is so much pessimism surrounding the Rockets.
The main argument that Harden should have won the MVP award last year instead of Stephen Curry was that the Rockets would have been an also-ran in the playoff hunt without his scoring, let alone reach the conference finals, as his 27.4 points per game helped cover up the Houston defensive efficiencies. Well, nothing has changed this year as the Rockets needed Harden to go off for those 37 points on Monday to finally win a game.
That is because even at this infant stage of the season, the Rockets are already in their customary position toward the bottom of the defensive rankings, ranking 25th in the league in points against at 107.8 per game, 26th in field goal percentage allowed at 48.2 percent and 28th in three-point defense at 41.8 percent.
And Harden may not get his usual share of good looks here either as another reason why the Magic could surprise some folks this year is because their defense is sixth in the league in the early going in field goal percentage against at 39.9 percent and, of particular importance vs. Harden, eighth in three-point defense at 28.6 percent while grading out a very respectable 10th in defensive efficiency at 96.2 points per 100 possessions.
Head-to-Head ATS Dominance
Finally, in a bit of a surprise the Magic have dominated this head-to-head series from a betting standpoint, going 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings overall including 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in Houston. And remember that this season’s Magic team is on the upswing and appears to be better than the Orlando teams that have had ATS success vs. the Rockets in the recent past.
With that in mind, look for that uncanny head-to-head ATS success by Orlando to continue here at a relatively inflated line as it pays a visit to Houston on Wednesday.
NBA Pick: Magic +8 (-105)