Miami Heat +8.5 (17-13) at Orlando Magic -8.5 (25-7) O/U 188.5 7 PM ET Friday January 2, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight is the battle of the Sunshine State, as the Miami Heat travel to play the Orlando Magic. All the press has gone to the Cavaliers and Celtics in the East, but the Magic have the 3rd best record in the conference and are in 1st place in the Southwest Division. The Heat have already surpassed last year’s win total and are in 3rd place in the Southwest Division 7 games back of the Magic. Dwayne Wade is a legit MVP candidate and is playing great ball. The Magic are 8-2 in their last 10 games and the Heat are 6-4.
This season the Magic are 13-3 at home and the Heat are only 6-8 in away games.
Basketball bookies have the magic as 8.5 point favorites with a total around 188.5. The Magic are posted at -450 as home favorites and the Heat are posted at +350 as away dogs.
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The Magic come into this game after thumping the Chicago Bulls 113-94 on New Year’s Eve. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Rashard Lewis going for 21 points on 8/17 shooting. Dwight Howard had another huge game going for 15 points, grabbing 14 boards, and blocking 2 shots. For the game the Magic shot 43/87 for a FG% of 49.7%. On defense the Magic held the Bulls to 34/81 for a FG% of 42%.
The Heat come into this game after an upset win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on 104-95 on Tuesday night spoiling LeBron James’ 24th birthday. The high scorers for the Heat in that game was both Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers going for 21 points each. For the game the Heat shot 34/76 for a FG% of 44.7%. On defense the Heat allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 33/71 for a FG% of 46.5%.
This season the Magic rank 9th in scoring (101 ppg) and the Heat rank 19th (96.5 ppg). Both teams are legit on D, as the Magic rank 5th in points allowed (93.6 ppg) and the Heat rank 11th (95.9 ppg). Even with Dwight Howard in the middle the Magic have a rebounding differential of -1.5 rpg and the Heat are at -1.9 rpg.
This season the Heat are 13-16-1 ATS and those laying money on the Magic are stoked, as they are 20-10-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Heat are 17-16-1 and the Magic are 16-18-1.
On the injury front SG Mickael Pietrus is Out for the Magic, while the Heat are not reporting any significant injuries.
The big question in this game is, can the Heat contain Howard? Howard (19.7 ppg) is leading the league in rebounds (13.8) and blocked shots (3.6). The Heat do not match up well with teams with big centers, especially ones that dominate like Howard, as their starting C is Joel Anthony (3.1 ppg 4.3 rpg), who is only 6’9″ 245 pounds. Anthony is giving up a few inches and around 20 pounds to Howard, who will use that advantage all night.
Obviously Dwayne Wade, who is the leading scorer in the league, will get his points, but the Heat need someone else to step up and score.
The PG match up is a good one with Mario Chalmers (10.3 ppg) vs. Jameer Nelson (16.5 ppg), who may be the front-runner for most improved player this year. Chalmers has to keep Nelson from getting to hoop and scoring and dishing out to the long-range bombers of the Magic.
The SF’s of the Heat Shawn Marion (11.7 ppg) and Michael Beasley (13 ppg) are both great at getting to the rim and should easily do so tonight being guarded by Hedo Turkoglu (17 ppg), but they will have Howard waiting for them. Conversely, both Marion and Beasley will have to play good perimeter D on Turkoglu, who is shooting a hair under 40% from 3-point land.
The Heat have played well this year and are 4 games above .500 and they are currently sitting in the 6th position in the Eastern Conference. They need to start winning these big games if they want to be considered a threat in the East.
I expect a double digit win from Orlando tonight. Take the Magic at -9!