Orlando Magic (39-13) at New Orleans Hornets -1 (31-20) O/U 189.5 8 PM ET Wednesday February 18, 2008 on ESPN
By Jason Green at Predcitem.com
Tonight the Orlando Magic head to the Big Easy to take on the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets recently made a big move to cut their payroll, as they traded 7’1″ C Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forwards Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith. The Hornets are currently in the 5th position in the Western Conference, but they may slide, as without Chandler they may have major problems with their interior defense. The Magic are in the 3rd position in the Eastern Conference, but moving up or even staying there may be tough without All Star PG Jameer Nelson. Nelson has been awesome this year running the Magic, but he may miss the year after injuring his shoulder and even though he hopes to come back this year the Magic will miss him, big time.
This season the Hornets are 18-9 at home and the Magic are 18-7 in away games.
Basketball Sportsbooks have the Hornets as 1-point favorites with a total around 189.5. Both teams are posted at -110.
The Magic come into this game after beating the Charlotte Bobcats 107-102 last night. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Dwight Howard going for 45 points on 16/23 shooting including dominating the glass with 19 boards. For the game the Magic shot 35/80 for a FG% of 43.8%. On D the Magic allowed the Bobcats to shoot 44/95 for a FG% of 46.3%.
The Hornets come into this game after a winning a close game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning on a last second runner by Chris Paul. The high scorer for the Hornets in that game was David West going for 37 points on 13/20 shooting. For the game the Hornets shot 39/79 for a FG% of 49.9%. On D the Hornets held the Thunder to 36/84 shooting for a FG% of 42.9%.
This season the Magic are a much higher-scoring team, as they rank 8th (102.3 ppg), while the Hornets only rank 25th (95.4 ppg). On D is where the Hornets shine, as they rank 3rd in points allowed (93.1 ppg) and the Magic aint bad on D either, thank you Superman Dwight Howard, ranking 5th (94.1 ppg). The Magic are better on the glass, again thanks Howard leading the NBA in boards (14.2 rpg), as they have a rebounding differential of +1.3 rpg while the Hornets are at -1.3 rpg and it may get worse without Chandler down low.
This season the Magic are the best team to bet on, as they are a league best 33-17-1 ATS, while the Hornets are only 21-27-2. In terms of Over/Under games the Magic are 23-27-1 and the Hornets are 21-28-1.
On the injury front PG Jameer Nelson is Out for the Magic and SG Morris Peterson is day-to-day for the Hornets.
New Hornets Wilcox and Smith may not play tonight, but the Hornets could really use them. Last night’s game may be a preview of things to come for the Hornets, as they barely beat the lowly Thunder and their 2 forwards torched them, as Kevin Durant went for 47 points and Jeff Green went for 24. It will only get worse tonight playing tonight against Dwight Howard (21 ppg). The Hornets big inside presence is now 6’10” PF Sean Marks (3 ppg 3 rpg), who will not instill fear in any opposing C or PF.
The Hornets are thin inside, but they cannot drop down and pack the lane to stop Howard, as the Magic are the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA shooting 40% from downtown.
Nelson’s replacement at the point, Anthony Johnson (4.8 ppg) will have to get the ball to Howard often and dish out to the 3-point bombers of Rashard Lewis (18.5 ppg) and Hedo Turkoglu (17 ppg).
For the Hornets to win this game they will have to play solid D inside and out and shoot lights out from the perimeter. Paul (21.3 ppg), David West (19.9 ppg), and Peja Stojakovic (14.3 ppg) have to play well tonight. West and Paul like to get their buckets slashing to the hoop, but they will be met by Howard tonight who leads the NBA in blocks per game (3.02).
If the Magic play good perimeter D tonight they will be in great shape. Both teams have issues, but the Hornets may be looking to the future, as after lofty expectations for the season they will miss Chandler, bad. He was not having the best year, but at least he was a big body in the lane, which is something the Hornets simply do not have.
Jason’s Pick: I like New Orleans to protect their home court tonight.