Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to April 7 inclusive:
That’s what is says on his back. Mason Plumlee (17.9 PER) saved the day for the Brooklyn Nets with a highlight-reel block on LeBron “King James” James, securing an 88-87 victory against the Miami Heat (–7) in the front end of Tuesday’s TNT doubleheader. Okay, so Plumlee got away with a foul on the play. He still got national face time with Craig Sager afterward. And the Nets (43-34 SU, 42-35 ATS) stayed within two games of the Toronto Raptors for first place in the Atlantic Division.
There’s one more piece of business to take care of in Florida. The Orlando Magic (22-55 SU, 32-42-3 ATS) are next on the schedule, and as easy as it would be to dismiss the Magic as just another tank job, they’re 3-3 SU and 3-2-1 ATS in their last six games. That includes upset victories at home over Portland (–6.5), Charlotte (–4.5) and Minnesota (–2.5). Wednesday’s NBA odds have yet to be released as we go to press, but Brooklyn will presumably be favored as well.
No doubt that’s not the first plum-related drive-by you’ve suffered today. Blame the Nets and Heat – and the NBA fat cats – for breaking out the nickname uniforms on national television, thus giving millions of people the chance to see a guy named Plums prevent the league’s reigning MVP from throwing down a sure game-winning dunk. Did I mention he’s from Duke?
If you follow NBA betting closely, you’ll already be familiar with Plumlee. He’s been logging heavy minutes at power forward in place of Kevin Garnett (13.7 PER), who sat out Tuesday’s game and is expected to play Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET). Plumlee has had very little trouble making the transition to the pros after serving the full four-year sentence at Duke; with Brook Lopez (25.5 PER) out for the season, Plumlee even leads the remaining Nets in Win Shares per 48 minutes.
Garnett probably won’t eat up too many of Plumlee’s minutes against Orlando, but the Big Ticket looked good on Saturday in his 13 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers, scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and posting a team-high plus-12. However, it was the Sixers (+11 at home) grabbing the cash in a 105-101 Brooklyn victory. Plumlee was a minus-7 in 23 minutes off the bench despite his 16 points and seven rebounds. That’s what playing against Thaddeus Young (20 points on 8-of-18 shooting) can do to you.
Which brings us to the central premise of today’s pick. The two worst teams in the league, the Sixers and the Milwaukee Bucks, have both done very well against the NBA lines as the season draws to a close. So how about the third-worst team? The Magic have done quite well of late after snapping that 0-9 SU, 3-6 ATS losing streak. Kyle O’Quinn (15.9 PER) is having a breakthrough season of his own at power forward, and has easily been an improvement over the departed Glen Davis (13.8 PER).
But will Nikola Vucevic (18.8 PER) play on Wednesday? His status remains uncertain as we go to press because of a sore Achilles tendon that cost him the last two games. And this is presumably why this matchup is circled on the NBA odds board. The word during Tuesday’s practice was that Vucevic was feeling better; I’m going to take that and run with it. I expect Orlando to be a healthy team and a healthy underdog when the basketball lines come out. May the plums be with you.
NBA Pick: Take the Magic