Take Suns to Cover Over Magic for Your NBA Picks Tonight

Jason Lake

Sunday, November 30, 2014 1:59 PM GMT

Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 1:59 PM GMT

After crushing Eastern Conference foes on the road, the Phoenix Suns are back in the desert to face the Orlando Magic. Can Phoenix beat the NBA odds as a double-digit favorite, or does Orlando get the duke?

Jason’s record as of Nov. 28: 12-10 ATS

The Phoenix Suns just barely missed the Western Conference playoffs last year. They’re a fringe candidate to make it this year. But that’s good enough to beat most teams in the East; Phoenix is coming off a strong road trip that included a 4-1 SU and ATS run against Eastern opponents. This Sunday night (8:00 p.m. ET), the Suns get a crack at the Orlando Magic, whose rebuilding project has run into a few snags. Orlando opened as an 11.5-point road dog on the NBA odds board before dropping to +10.5 at press time.

 

Eastern Daylight Time
The Suns were one of last year’s most surprising teams, going 9-8 SU and 12-4-1 ATS in their first 17 games when most people – ourselves included – figured they were going to tank the season. Phoenix has built on that success, improving to 10-7 SU going into Sunday’s contest. However, the Suns aren’t a surprise anymore: They’re mildly profitable at 9-7-1 ATS.

You could even make the argument that the Suns haven’t actually improved. Basketball Reference has them pegged at plus-1.34 on the Simple Rating System, down from plus-3.02 last year. Most of the good work Phoenix has done this year has come against the East; versus the superior Western Conference, the Suns are 5-5 SU and 4-5-1 ATS.

 

Vocal Frye
And yet the Suns have already beaten the best in the West. They hold victories over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs (–1 away), as well as one of this year’s hottest teams, the Golden State Warriors (+1.5 away). It’s been a quality performance for a Phoenix team that went through some changes during the offseason – nothing as drastic as last year’s teardown, mind you.
 

The biggest change, literally and figuratively, came when 6-foot-11 Channing Frye (plus-1.1 BPM) opted out of his contract after a strong season and signed a four-year, $32-million deal with the Magic. Frye stretched defenses out last year by hitting 37.0 percent from behind the arc, and he started all 82 games for the first time in his career. He’s doing even better this year for the Magic at 42.7 percent from long range.

With Frye out of the picture, the Suns have promoted both of the Morris Twins, Markieff (plus-2.3 BPM) and Marcus (minus-0.8 BPM), to the starting rotation. Marcus is doing the stretching for Phoenix this year, hitting 38.8 percent of his trey attempts, while Markieff (plus-2.2 DBPM) is locking down opponents on defense. Phoenix has gotten even better results from offseason pick-up Isaiah Thomas (plus-3.0 BPM), although he’s missed the last two games with an ankle injury and is uncertain to play Sunday.

 

Ben, You’re Always Running Here and There
Frye was a rather curious addition to a Magic team that tanked the 2013-14 season at 23-59 SU and 34-45-3 ATS. That “effort” allowed Orlando to draft PF Aaron Gordon No. 4 overall; the Magic also engineered a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that landed PG Elfrid Payton at No. 10. It’s been an interesting ride thus far. Payton (minus-2.7 BPM) is already starting at point guard, and he’s playing some good defense at plus-0.4 DBPM. But his 39.1-percent shooting from 2-point range has to improve.

Gordon (minus-1.3 BPM), meanwhile, is out indefinitely with a broken foot. But he’s not the most problematic Gordon in the lineup – that would be Ben Gordon (minus-5.4 BPM), who for some reason was given another crack at playing in the NBA, albeit in a reserve role behind another new addition, Evan Fournier (minus-1.8 BPM).

Despite all these issues, the Magic are treading water against the basketball odds at 6-12 SU and 9-9 ATS. But they’ve lost their last four in a row SU and ATS, and we’re content to add Phoenix to our NBA picks this week.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Suns ATS at 5Dimes

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