Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers Preview and Pick

Orlando Magic +2 (10-4) at Philadelphia 76ers -2 (7-7) O/U 190.5 7:30 ET Wednesday November 26, 2008 on ESPN
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Orlando Magic travel to the City of Brotherly Love to play the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers are 5-2 at home this season while the Magic are 4-1 on the road. Currently the Magic are in first place in the Southeast Division and the 76ers are in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division 5.5 games back of the Boston Celtics. The Magic come into this game hot, as they are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The 76ers though by bringing in Elton Brand they would challenge the Celtics in the East, but even though Brand has played well, last year’s leading scorer, Andre Iguodala is struggling shooting the pill with a FG% under 40% and only averaging 13.4 ppg as opposed to last year when he averaged 19.9 ppg.

Basketball bookies have the 76ers as 2-point favorites with a total around 190.5. The 76ers are posted at -165 as home favorites and the Magic are posted at +145 as away dogs.

The Magic come into this game after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 108-100 on Monday night. The high scorer for the Magic in that game was Dwight Howard going for 24 points on 7/10 shooting and also grabbing 13 boards. For the game the Magic shot 31/65 from the floor for a FG% of 47.7%. On defense the Magic allowed the Bucks to shoot 40/87 from the field for a FG% of 46%.

The 76ers come into this game after losing to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats 93-84. The high scorer for the 76ers in that game was Elton Brand going for 18 points on 6/13 shooting. For the game the 76ers were throwing up bricks going 32/81 from the floor for a FG% of only 39.5%. On defense the 76ers, well they didn’t really play any, as the Bobcats shot 34/62 for a FG% of 54.8%.

The Magic rank 7th in the league in scoring (99.7 ppg) while the 76ers only rank 23rd (95.1 ppg). Both teams are pretty even in terms of team FG%, 3 point FG%, and FT%.

On defense the 76ers rank 7th (93 ppg) and the Magic rank 9th (94.4 ppg). The 76ers are a better rebounding team with a rebound differential of +6.8 while the Magic are at -0.6, which is surprising because Howard is the league’s leading rebounder (13.4 rpg).

This season the Magic are 6-7-1 ATS and the 76ers are 6-8. Tough to bet on either of these teams considering that they are both under .500 ATS. In terms of Over/Under games the Magic are 8-7 and the 76ers are 5-11.

On the injury front PG Jameer Nelson is day-to-day and SG Keith Bogans is Out for the Magic while the 76ers are reporting no serious injuries.

What gives for the 76ers? They are pretty even in most offensive categories, with the exception of ppg, and are a better rebounding team than the Magic yet they are only .500 and the Magic are 6 games above .500.

A key to this game will be whether PG Jameer Nelson can play, as he has a strained groin. In his last 3 games he has averaged 21.7 ppg and 6.7 assists per game.

Orlando has one of the best starting 5 in the league, but they have a weak bench.

The 76ers hope Andre Iguodala snapped out of his season long slump, as last game he shot 50% from the field and scored 17 points in their loss to the Bobcats.

Another key to this game will be the perimeter defense of the 76ers. The Magic can drain the outside J with Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu. If the Magic are hitting the outside shot it will open up space in the paint for Howard to operate. However, if the Magic aren’t hitting from outside the 76ers will pack the paint and try to stop Howard.

The 76ers may have to run in this game, as Brand will have a hard time scoring inside tonight with Howard, who is leading the league in blocks (4.07 bpg), waiting for him. 76ers PG Andre Miller will have to push the ball to try to get some easy buckets.

Another problem with the 76ers is that teams are packing the lane against them, as they are averaging the 2nd fewest 3-point FG’s in the league and with good reason since they do not have any long-range gunners.

Bookies have the 76ers as favorites in this game? Really?

Jason’s Pick: Take the Magic at +2.