When Thunder Faces Magic, Bet on Orlando Covering NBA Odds

Doug Upstone

Sunday, January 18, 2015 3:24 PM GMT

NBA basketball handicappers have been baffled by Oklahoma City even after Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook returned from injury. In roughly a 27-hour period, two games summed up the Thunder’s season.

This evening, OKC will be in Orlando and besides the Thunder being hard to predict, the Magic even has Mickey Mouse, who lives down the street, scratching his head with their recent outings.

Making NBA picks with teams like this can be troublesome against the betting odds.

 

Oklahoma City All Over the Place
From Dec.18th thru Jan. 9th, the Thunder was 6-6 (2-10 ATS) and any talk of championships has been left on the back burner since Oklahoma City presently is not even playoff eligible.

Oklahoma City had an exceptional opportunity to regroup, being off from the Jan. 10th until this past Thursday. Several Thunder players remarked how it felt like “training camp” and were anxious to start playing games again and were “ready” to face Houston on the road.

If coach Scott Brook’s players thought they were ready for action like many generating sports picks did, they could not have been more wrong, outscored 40-18 in the first quarter on the way to a 112-101 loss.

That is the kind of setback which can linger and Oklahoma City had to face Golden State the next night and the Warriors were on an eight-game winning streak.

What does OKC do, they gouge the NBA’s best field goal percentage defense in shooting 52.6 percent (there second-best shooting game of the season) and runaway from Golden State 127-115 as one-point home underdogs.

"The real Thunder team showed up," Durant said after the game. "So we've got to continue to do that." Tonight will provide us a peek into OKC’s mindset.

 

Orlando Needs More Outbursts
The Orlando offense is far from magical, ranked 27th in points per game at 94.9 and they are only one spot higher in the standings in offensive efficiency.

Knowing this, how does one explain this past Monday and Wednesday when the Magic tallied 121 points at Chicago and followed that up with 120 versus Houston at home, both upset wins and covers.

Orlando has been one of the most plodding teams in the league, mostly by design as coach Jacque Vaughn wanted to run more dating back to training camp, but had his guards committing too many turnovers.

Against Portland eight days ago, Vaughn implored his team to push the ball against the Trail Blazers and they were tied with four minutes remaining before crumbling in 103-92 loss.

Players like Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton started pushing the orange and Orlando as a team has looked more comfortable in this style and it might end up saving the season for the Magic.

"No matter what," Oladipo said, "we've got to continue to keep playing this way, keep playing this pace because that's how we're effective. We've found our way to play. We've got to play it no matter what."

Let’s see what Orlando does against the NBA odds tonight.

 

Betting Odds and Head to Head
Oklahoma City is a nine-point favorite according to sportsbooks, but the total has shot up from 206 to 212.5 (at YouWager), likely because of Orlando’s new offensive attitude.

The Thunder has won three of the last four meetings, yet the Magic have covered all four times and three of the past five matchups have been determined by three or fewer points.

 

Scheduling
This is the opening tilt of a five-game road trip for OKC, who will next venture to Miami, Washington, Atlanta and Cleveland by next Sunday. The Thunder are only 5-14-1 ATS in away games (7-13 SU) and 10-13 ATS after one day off.

Orlando will not hit the court again until Wednesday when they open a quick two-game road excursion to Detroit and New York. The Magic are 5-13 and 7-11 ATS at home, losing by 5.4 points a contest. They are a respectable 14-12 ATS with a day between contests.

 

The Choice
Oklahoma City is 11-5 SU when Durant and Westbrook have played together this season. The Thunder are capable of running Orlando off the court with their explosiveness, but I’m not convinced Brooks squad will bring the same intensity they had against Golden State.

The Magic players all seem to enjoy motoring up and down the floor and OKC is just 2-11 ATS in road games versus teams who attempt 18 or more three-point shots a contest. Oklahoma City wins, just by five or fewer points.

NBA Basketball Free Pick: Orlando +9 at BookMaker Sportsbook