Last summer’s high-profile trade that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles was supposed to be the straw that broke the Orlando Magic’s back and the one that sent the franchise into the lottery with the rest of the NBA bottom-feeders. And, while the Magic are certainly one of the worst teams in the league with a record of 14-27, they have been doing far better in the one area that truly matters to sports bettors — against the spread.
The Magic currently have a 21-20 ATS record, which is the sixth best in the east and is seven games better than their straight up record. The team — which does not have one superstar player (unless we are counting J.J Redick as a superstar these days) — has been one of the better ATS teams in the league, even though it barely has five players that would even be recognizable to most NBA fans.
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Orlando’s ATS record may only be one game over .500, which at first glance might not seem that impressive, but their record gains a little more weight once you realize that there are only 15 teams in the league with an above .500 ATS record, and Orlando is one of them. The Magic currently have the 25th best SU record in the NBA but rank significantly better as an ATS team, where they have the 15th best record in the entire NBA. However, before we start blindly wagering on the Magic, let’s take a closer look at the stats and try and find an explanation as to why Orlando is much better ATS than their SU record indicates.
Explaining Orlando’s ATS record
The Magic currently have a 14-27 SU record, which is one of the worst in the entire NBA. However, have a put together a very impressive 21-20 ATS record with a group that was formed from a bunch of spare parts in the Dwight Howard trade. The major question then becomes why are the Magic covering spreads with such a rag-tag group of players? Is it that they are playing great basketball and keeping games close? Or is it because the Magic are just getting ridiculously large spreads that make it easy for them to cover?
Taking a closer look at Orlando’s ATS records, we see that they have been a favorite nine times and have only covered the spread on two of those occasions. We also notice that the Magic are at their best when they are a road underdog, as they have an ATS away record of 13-6 and an ATS underdog record of 19-13.
The Magic have been an underdog in 78 percent of the games they have played this season and have covered almost 60 percent of the time. The team, on average, has been receiving six points per game as the underdog, and, astonishingly, the Magic have only been outscored in those games by an average of 3.2 points per game.
The real value in betting the Magic as an underdog is when they are getting six points or more. The team has been a six-point-or-greater underdog in 15 games this season and has covered in 11 of those games for a 73-percent win rate. The Magic have only lost those games by an average of 3.5 points per game.
The Orlando Magic are one of the worst teams in the league, but they are a covering machine as a large underdog. They have also done significantly worse when they are a small underdog. The team only has an 8-9 ATS record when getting six points are less, and, surprisingly, has lost those games by an average of 5.94 points per game.
It seems like the oddsmakers have been undervaluing the Magic, but maybe they really don’t care since Orlando is not a team the public flocks to when wagering. If you are a sports bettor looking for a team with excellent value, then look no further than the Orlando Magic. Stay away from the team when they are a favorite or small underdog, and take advantage of any lines where they are an underdog of six points or more. Remember to bet wisely, and may the spread be with you.
Read more articles by George Monroy