Toronto Raptors (41-42), +5.5, o/u 199.5 vs. Orlando Magic (53-30), o/u 199.5, Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday
By Oracle of Predictem.com
If there were a series in the NBA playoffs that was overlooked and not talked about nearly enough, it’s the one between Toronto and Orlando, who will match up in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday night in Orlando.
Besides the Celtics and Pistons, nobody wants to even waste a breath on the other Eastern Conference teams. The Raptors and Magic are quietly going about their business, though, and are looking to advance to the second round where they can turn some more heads.
Game 1 saw an absolutely dominating performance by superstar center Dwight Howard, as his Magic squad ended up on the winning side of the stick, 114-100. Howard did get plenty of help from his fellow teammates in the win, as six Magic players finished in double figures.
Howard himself scored 25 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and blocked five shots. Hedo Turkoglu, who is a strong candidate as the X-factor for Orlando, finished with 21 points and six rebounds. As a team, Orlando took advantage of Toronto’s porous defense by shooting 53.2% from the floor.
The Magic scored 43 points alone in the first quarter, which is the third largest total ever in the post-season for points in the first frame. They hit nine three-pointers in that quarter, tied for the most ever in a playoff game, and finished 13-of-29 from deep for the contest.
The last time Orlando won a playoff game, Howard was still in high school (2003). Their roster isn’t full of playoff experience, so getting this win was a big boost for the Magic.
Orlando easily covered the 6.5 spread and will have to contend with a spread of 5.5 to open up Tuesday’s game. The 214 points was well over the set total of 198 as well. Bookies have upped the over/under a bit to 199.5 to open up Game 2.
The Raptors did show some toughness by coming back from a 20-point deficit to close it to within five points with 10 minutes left in the game. But it was too much Howard in the end.
Chris Bosh, who scored 40 points against Orlando earlier this year, didn’t have his best game from the floor, going 4-for-11, but did hit all 13 of his free throw shots. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy decided not to put Howard on Bosh, but let Rashard Lewis go head up. Lewis, more known for his offensive skill set, fronted Bosh most of the night and frustrated him at times.
On the defensive side of the ball, Bosh guarded Howard and picked up four fouls in the third quarter alone. Guarding Howard on defense may have impacted Bosh’s offensive game, too.
Look for the same type of defensive match up from Van Gundy. Anthony Parker did score 24 points for the Raptors, but it didn’t hurt the Magic in the end, mostly because of their dismal 37.6% shooting night.
Orlando has now taken three of the four games in the head-to-head meetings with Toronto, including both home games.
The over has been trendy for bettors as of late with a 4-1 record in the last five meetings between these two squads. However, the under is 5-2 in Orlando in the last seven.
Although they didn’t cover on Sunday night, the Raptors are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings against Orlando, having the upper hand for bettors.
The home team seems to have an edge, though, which means bettors may like Orlando here. The home team, as well as the favorite, is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
If either of these teams wants to show the rest of the NBA that they shouldn’t be overlooked, showing up tonight wouldn’t hurt.
Oracle’s Pick: It’s hard to see Toronto struggle from the floor like they did two games in a row. Look for them to bounce back. Take Toronto plus the 6 that the line has already moved to!