Denver Nuggets (32-19) +5, 219 at Orlando Magic (32-21), 7 pm Eastern Wednesday
by Zman of Predictem.com
The Denver Nuggets have won three games in a row and six of their last seven, but are battling like crazy for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. The Orlando Magic have lost three of their last four, all at home, but are solidly entrenched in the upper division of the the Eastern Conference playoff hierarchy. Thus is the situation as the Nugs hit central Florida to take on the Magic Wednesday night.
Online Sports Bookies opened with the Magic as a five-point home favorite for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 219. The Magic are also posted at around -245 on various Vegas moneylines, with Denver getting +205 as road underdogs.
Denver needed overtime to beat the lowly Miami Heat Tuesday 114-113. Nonetheless, the win kept the Nuggets just a half-game out of first place in the Northwest Division, behind the Utah Jazz, and in 7th place in the West. But Denver is just a single game ahead of the 9th-place Houston Rockets. So even though we haven’t even hit the All-Star break yet, the race for playoffs spots in the West has started to heat up.
On the other side of this match-up, Orlando lost at home to Cleveland Monday 118-111. The Magic may be 19-10 on the road this season, but for some reason they’ve struggled at home, and are now just 1-3 on a current five-game homestand. But O-Town still sits atop the Southeast Division, seven games clear of the second-place Washington Wizards, and owns the three-spot in the East.
The Magic are also having to battle a bit of internal turmoil. Head coach Stan Van Gundy used a post-game presser to call out star forward Dwight Howard after Monday’s loss, saying Howard isn’t playing hard enough on defense. But Orlando as a team isn’t playing too much defense as of late, allowing an average of 108 points over its last six games and allowing three of its last four opponents to shoot better than 50% from the field.
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In the first meeting this season between these two teams, the Nuggets beat the Magic 113-103 in Denver a month ago. Orlando led by a bucket after three quarters, but the Nugs outscored the Magic 29-17 in the fourth quarter to win. The game managed to stay under its total of 219, which is exactly Wednesday’s total, by a single basket.
These two teams split their two games last season. But since getting guard Allen Iverson in a trade in December of 2006, Denver has beaten Orlando both times they’ve played, including a 111-101 decision last February.
This season, the Nuggets are 26-24 against the spread, 11-13 straight up and vs. the numbers on the road.
Meanwhile, the Magic are a nifty 31-21 ATS this season, but only 13-11 SU and 11-11-2 vs. the numbers at home.
But it should be noted that Orlando has beaten Denver 14 straight times in Florida.
Statistically speaking, the Magic rank 10th in the league in point differential at +3.1 per game, the Nuggets 12th at +3.0.
Denver is shooting 45% from the field as a team this season, 34% from 3-point land and 76% from the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, Orlando is shooting 47% from the floor, 37% from long range and 73% from the line.
Also, the Magic rank 17th in rebounding at +.4 boards per game, the Nuggets 20th at -.8 per game.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Orlando 9th at 93.7, Denver 12th at 92.3. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.0.
The o/u is 26-23 in Nuggets games this season, which are averaging 211 total points, while the totals are 27-23 in Magic games, which are averaging 205 points.
Zman’s Pick: Lay the points with Orlando.