Orlando Magic -2.5 (41-15) at New York Knicks +2.5 (24-32) O/U 217 7:30 PM ET Wednesday February 25, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the Orlando Magic travel to the Big Apple to play the New York Knicks. Finally, the Stephon Marburry saga is over, as the Knicks let him go and now they do not need to worry about that distraction. Will that help them in the 2nd half get back to the task at hand, which is making the playoffs? The Knicks currently are in the 11th position in the Eastern Conference, but they are only 2.5 games out of the 8th position. The Magic still have the 3rd position in the East, but can they catch Cleveland and Boston? Well, neither team has played well lately, as even though the Knicks are coming off a win they are only 3-7 in their last 10 games and the Magic are only 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Knicks traded away a lot of talent to free up cash for the LeBron bonanza in 2010, but they have a decent team and can make the playoffs with a 2nd half push.
This season the Knicks are a legit home team, as they are 17-12 at Madison Square Garden and the Magic are one of the better road teams being 19-9 away from the Sunshine State.
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Hoops bookies have the Magic as 2.5 point favorites wit ha total around 217. The Magic are posted at -135 as road favorites and the Knicks are posted at +115 as home dogs.
The Magic come into this game after getting schooled by the new-look Chicago Bulls 120-102 last night. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Dwight Howard going for 26 points on 10/18 shooting and also grabbing 12 boards. For the game the Magic shot 40/89 from the field for a FG% of 44.9%. The Magic left their defensive game at home, as they allowed the Bulls to shoot 48/85 for a FG% of 56.5%.
The Knicks come into this game after beating the Indiana Pacers 123-119 on Monday night. The high scorer in that game was Nate Robinson going for 41 points on 11/18 shooting. For the game the Knicks shot 42/96 for a FG% of 43.8%. On defense the Knicks allowed the Pacers to shoot 43/94 for a FG% of 45.7%.
The Knicks can really light up the scoreboard, as they rank 4th in scoring this season (105.8 ppg) and the Magic aint too bad in the scoring department ranking 8th (102.2 ppg). The reason the Knicks are 12 games below .500 is their D, which ranks 28th in points allowed (107.8 ppg), while the Magic rank 7th (94.5 ppg). The Magic are much better on the glass, as they have a rebounding differential of +1.4 rpg and the Knicks are at -3.8 rpg.
This season the Magic are a league best 35-19-1 ATS and the Knicks are 32-23. In terms of Over/Under games the Magic are 26-28-1 this season and the Knicks are 27-28.
On the injury front SF Mickael Pietrus is day-to-day for the Magic while the Knicks are not reporting any significant injuries.
The key for tonight’s game is how the Knicks play D on Howard. They do not have a true center and they will have to play good team D on Howard to win this game. Howard is averaging 30 ppg, 17 rpg and shooting 70.7% in the Magic’s last 4 victories, compared with 18.8 ppg and 13.8 rpg in the team’s last 4 losses. David Lee is a double double machine (16.6 ppg 11.9 rpg) and he has to have a good game, which will not be easy with Howard on the inside.
The Knicks can score with the best of them, but it is their D that holds them back. They may need to get into a running game with the Knicks to come out of this game with a win.
Nate Robinson has been on fire lately averaging 30 ppg in his last 7 games.
Since Jameer Nelson went out for the season with a shoulder injury the Magic are only 5-4. Rafer Alston (11.3 ppg) is the new Magic PG and he needs to get the ball to Howard and dish out to the 3-point bombers Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu if the Magic have any chance of getting past the Celtics and Cavs in the playoffs.
The time is now for the Knicks, as if they do not start to win they will miss the playoffs again.
Jason’s Pick: I like New York to cover and win straight up.