Free Sports Picks: NBA TNT Doubleheader
by Matt Severance - 12/17/2009
Orlando Magic at Miami Heat, 8 p.m.
NBA Odds: Orlando -4, with a total of 201
How they enter: The Magic (19-6, 13-11 ATS) enter on a two-game win streak, which followed a two-game losing streak. Orlando beat visiting Toronto and former Magic star Hedo Turkoglu, 118-99, on Wednesday night thanks in large part to hitting 57 percent of its shots overall and 14-for-30 from three-point range. Tonight's game will be Orlando's sixth back-to-back contest this season, and it is 3-2 (and 3-2 ATS) in the first five with no rest.
Miami (12-11, 11-12 ATS), ironically enough, also enters off a home win over the Raptors, beating Toronto, 115-92, on Tuesday night, ending a two-game losing streak. Second-year player Michael Beasley had a career-high 28 points against the Raptors as Miami stopped a four-game home slide.
Don't take too much from those two routs and offensive explosions over Toronto by Orlando and Miami, as the Raptors are second-to-last in the NBA in defense.
Scouting report: These two teams have met once this season, a 99-98 Miami win in Orlando on Nov. 25. Beasley dunked off a Dwyane Wade miss with just 1.6 seconds left for the winning points. The Magic drained 14-of-31 three-pointers in that game and outshot Miami overall. However, they were out-rebounded and committed nearly twice as many turnovers.
The Magic won three of four games against the Heat last season and have still won 12 of the last 14 regular-season games.
Magic starting point guard Jason Williams left Wednesday's game in the third quarter because of a stomach virus. But Coach Stan Van Gundy said Williams should be able to play tonight.
Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers worked with the second unit during practice Wednesday, a day after he came off the bench against the Raptors for being late for a shootaround. Chalmers had started every game in his young career but was replaced by Carlos Arroyo against Toronto, and he had a season-high 12 points. Heat forward Quentin Richardson has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury but practiced Wednesday and could play tonight.
Trends: The Heat are 1-2 in their six-game homestand and 7-7 at home this season.
The Magic have lost two in a row on the road after winning their previous eight road games.
The over is 5-0 in Miami's past five games, but the Heat are 1-8 ATS in their past nine at home.
Orlando is 1-4 ATS in its past five overall.
The pick: Obviously Miami has the advantage of rest, but it's hard to ignore recent history in this series and Miami's mediocrity at home. Plus, Orlando should have won that first meeting. Take the Magic and give the points.
Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m.
NBA Odds: Portland -2.5, with the total at 201
How they got here: The Suns (17-8, 15-10 ATS) have dropped five of their past eight games, and all five came on the road. Phoenix did beat San Antonio, 116-104, at home on Tuesday night thanks to double-doubles by Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash.
Portland (15-11, 12-13-1 ATS) has lost six of nine but also won at home last time out, beating Sacramento, 95-88, on Tuesday. That game saw the return of Coach Nate McMillan, who had missed the Blazers' road trip due to surgery for a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
Scouting report: Portland is battered and down to nine healthy players. In fact, the NBA granted the team the option to sign a 16th player to the roster on a short-term basis. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points in the win over the Kings and has really stepped up his game since Greg Oden was lost for the season, but Aldridge is battling a sore right ankle and had to leave Tuesday's game for a stretch because of it, saying he twisted it twice. He is expected to play tonight.
The Blazers started Andre Miller at point guard over Steve Blake against the Kings for the first time this season.
For Phoenix, starting guard Jason Richardson will be a game-time decision. He has a sprained right (shooting) wrist and played just 22 ineffective minutes on Tuesday night. Louis Amundson expects to play after sitting out Tuesday's second half with a left-ankle sprain.
Phoenix scored at least 100 in each game until December - it is 0-4 this month when not reaching the century mark, and all those have come on the road. They lead the NBA in scoring and three-point shooting.
This is the first meeting of the season. Portland has won back-to-back games in this series, ending an 11-game losing streak to Phoenix. Both of those wins came in Portland.
Trends: Best trend ever here -- Phoenix has lost 16 consecutive games broadcast by TNT, including playoffs and preseason games. The losses have come by an average of 11.2 points.
Phoenix is 5-1 ATS in the past six against Portland.
The under is 8-1-1 ATS in the Suns' past 10 games.
The Blazers are 11-2 ATS in their past 13 as a favorite of 0.5-4.5.
The over is 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings between these two in Portland.
The pick: The Suns are a completely different team on the road, and with a gimpy Richardson won't have enough tonight. Take Portland and give the points.