The Orlando Magic have made the most personnel moves of any team in the NBA so far this year. Orlando is looking to become a real contender in what will be an extremely difficult Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Houston Rockets had high hopes for the season, but injuries have once again derailed their plans. Rick Adelman’s teams don’t just give up though, and the Rockets still have plenty of scorers. ESPN will have the coverage of this one.
The Rockets were expecting Yao Ming to play fewer minutes than normal this year, but another season-ending injury was a tough blow to their playoff chances. Ming is a game-changer down low when he is healthy, but he hasn’t been healthy for quite some time. The Rockets are also dealing with injuries to Aaron Brooks and Chuck Hayes. While those two obviously aren’t as big of a loss as Ming, both are significant contributors for the team. Houston actually won five straight a couple weeks ago, but they have now dropped four of their last five. The Rockets have been solid offensively all year long, but they haven’t played well enough on the defensive end. Houston is allowing 104.5 points per game this year, and they have given up at least 100 points in each of their last five games. Kevin Martin has been a nice bright spot for this team. Martin is averaging 23.2 points per game on the year. He piled up 45 points in their 103-100 loss to Portland on Wednesday. This team can score, but they have struggled to get stops when they need them most.
The Orlando Magic have had a major shuffling of their lineup in the last few weeks. Vince Carter, Mikael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat are all gone. Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, and Hedo Turkoglu are the big additions. Turkoglu is obviously familiar with the system, since he was on the team that made it to the NBA Finals a couple years ago. The trades were designed to help this team get some more playmakers on offense. Carter is aging and just wasn’t getting it done for the Magic. How has the move worked out thus far? The new team lost its first two games after the blockbuster deals, but they have since reeled off seven straight wins. Turkoglu is averaging 14 points per game during the winning streak, and he even picked up a triple-double Monday night against Golden State. Richardson and Arenas have been inconsistent, but both certainly give the team more offensive firepower. Dwight Howard is still the main man in the middle for Orlando, and as long as he is here the Magic will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic Betting Odds and Line Movement
The Magic opened as 10-point home favorites in this matchup, according to NBA odds, but the line has edged down to 9.5 at most books. The total opened at 207 and it has held steady. I would expect some more line movement as this one nears tipoff time. The ESPN games usually get quite a bit of action.
Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic Betting Trends
The Magic are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall
The Rockets are 7-1 ATS in the 8 meetings in Orlando
The ‘over’ is 4-1 in the Rockets last 5 games overall
NBA Predictions and Picks: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are a much better team offensively now, and I think Houston’s poor defense will allow them to put up quite a few points. Houston likes to push the pace and I think they’ll be able to score as well. I think the ‘over’ is the best play for this matchup.