Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick

Orlando Magic +6 (49-17) at Cleveland Cavaliers -6 (53-13) O/U 194 7 PM ET Tuesday March 17, 2009 on NBA TV
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Orlando Magic head north to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The top 3 teams in the East are pretty much set and in the current standings the Cavs have the top sport, 3.5 games ahead of the Celtics and 4 games in front of the Magic. The Celtics are not playing great ball and are only 5-5 in their last 10 games, so now is the time for the Magic to make a push to try to move into the 2nd position in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs and Magic are both hot right now, as the Cavs have won 5 in a row and are 9-1 in their last 10 games and the Magic have won 3 in a row and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Cavs have only dropped one game at home, to the Celtics, and if the Magic can win one tonight in Cleveland it will give them a ton of confidence, as there is a good chance they will meet them again in the later rounds of the playoffs.

This season the Cavs are the best home team at 29-1 and the Magic are legit away from the Sunshine State being 23-10 on the road, which is best in the East.

NBA Sportsbooks have the Cavs as 6-point favorites with a total around 194. The Cavs are posted at -200 as home favorites and the Magic are posted at +170 as road dogs.

The Magic come into this game after an impressive beat-down of the Utah Jazz 105-87 on Sunday. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Dwight Howard going for 28 points on 10/15 shooting and also grabbing 20 boards. For the game the Magic shot 40/90 for a FG% of 44.4%. The Magic played great on D in that game holding the Jazz to 32/86 shooting for a FG% of 37.2%.


The Cavs come into this game after beating the New York Knicks 98-93 on Sunday. The high scorer for the Cavs in that game was not King James, but Mo Williams going for 23 points on 8/13 shooting. James had a great game as well only falling 2 rebounds short of a triple-double. For the game the Cavs shot 40/84 for a FG% of 47.6%. The Cavs showed the Knicks why they are the best defensive team in the NBA, as they help them to 35/94 from the floor for a FG% of 37.2%.

This season the Magic rank 8th in scoring (102.2 ppg) and the Cavs rank 12th (100.3 ppg). On D the Cavs rank 1st in points allowed (91.3 ppg) and the Magic rank 8th (94.9 ppg). Both of these teams are legit on the glass, as the Cavs have a rebounding differential of +2.8 rpg and the Magic are at +1.8 rpg.

The Magic are the best team to bet on this season ATS, as they are an NBA best 41-23-1 and the Cavs are right behind them in second at 40-24-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Magic are 32-32-1 this season and the Cavs are 29-36.

On the injury front SF Hedo Turkoglu is day-to-day for the Magic and SG Delonte West and C Zydrunas Ilgauskas are day-to-day for the Cavs.

The Magic are playing the Cavs at the right time, as Ben Wallace is still out with a broken leg and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is banged up but expected to play. That does not bode well with Dwight Howard coming to town, who leads the league in both rebounds (14 rpg) and blocks (2.9 per game).

A big key to this game will be how Anderson Varejao (8.4 ppg 7.1 rpg) plays D against Howard. Varejao has stepped up his play since Wallace went down with a leg injury.

LeBron and company will have to play good defense on Howard (21 ppg) and not let him dominate the paint. The Cavs can’t drop down and pack the lane since the Magic are one of the premier 3 point shooting teams in the league.

LeBron (28.5 ppg) can still put up huge numbers every night, but he has turned into a playmaker as well averaging 7.2 assists per game. He can do that now that he has other scorers beside him in Mo Williams (18.1 ppg) and Delonte West (12 ppg).

The Magic will have to play solid perimeter D on James, Williams, and West and not let them shoot lights out. If they do that they will be in good shape, as even if they take the pill to the hoop Howard is there to bail them out.

The Magic can send a message to the Cavs with a win in Cleveland tonight and they may also take over 2nd position in the East in the process.

Jason’s Pick: I think Cleveland will be pumped up for this game and defend their home court AND the point spread.