Free NBA Picks: Magic at Hawks Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 11/8/2013
You might be asking why I am picking the Orlando-Atlanta matchup as my recommendation among Saturday's NBA games. Well, there is one main reason: I don't simply pick games that have the most national appeal, but I pick the ones that I feel strongest about from a betting perspective.
I'm a huge NBA guy, but I won't be watching this game on my NBA League Pass. Nope, I'll be checking in with Pacers at Nets (potential playoff preview and, for now at least, the two biggest challengers in the East to Miami), Clippers at Rockets (another possible playoff preview and to see how Houston rebounds from somehow losing at home to the Lakers) and Warriors at Grizzlies (you won't find two more different offensive teams). Also, I will always stay away from a game where both teams played the night before, which is the case for a handful of Saturday matchups. There are too many unknowns, and often early lines won't be posted.
Magic at Hawks Betting Story Lines
I actually think Orlando is in better shape for the future than Atlanta. I've said this before and will say it again: It's better to be a terrible team in the NBA than a mediocre one. It's how you can rebuild quickly through the draft. The Hawks have been blah since 'Nique left and will continue to be barring an unlikely trade or free-agent signing. They have good players like Al Horford, offseason addition Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. That's about it. Maybe 2013 first-round pick Dennis Schroder from Germany turns into a Rajon Rondo-type as he has been compared to. The guy is lightning-fast but very raw. Schroder is averaging 6.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 18.8 minutes. He's not shooting well from the field but that's to be expected for a rookie, and his jumper definitely needs work. Then again, so does Rondo's.
Schroder was suspended from Atlanta's 109-107 loss at Denver on Thursday night. He struck Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins in the man region during Tuesday's game -- something many NBA players would like to do to Boogie. Millsap, arguably the best offseason signing in terms of value per dollars, had a season-high 29 points and added 10 rebounds but missed a short jumper to tie the game with 1.9 seconds left. Horford grabbed the miss, but his putback skimmed off the rim. The Hawks (2-3) have been a good offensive team, ranking fifth in points at 105.2 per game. Not so good defensively, allowing 105.4 per game.
Why do I like the Magic moving forward? They are going to likely get a Top-5 pick in the loaded 2014 draft. And Orlando, which hosted Boston on Friday night, already has a few very nice pieces to build around. Rookie of the Year favorite Victor Oladipo has shown the all-around game the team was expecting when it took him No. 2 overall (the Cavs have to be kicking themselves for taking Anthony Bennett No. 1). Oladipo is averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals in 27 minutes a game entering Friday.
Center Nikola Vucevic, acquired in the Dwight Howard multi-team deal, is criminally underrated. The 23-year-old had a 30-point, 21-rebound game in Orlando's 98-90 upset of the Clippers on Wednesday. I mean it when I say this: I might rather have Vucevic than Howard, at least when you factor in the salaries, their ages and Howard's back issues. Plus, Vucevic can actually make free throws, something Howard can't and which was the main reason Houston lost to the Lakers. Another 23-year-old, Canadian power forward Andrew Nicholson, also has shown major promise for the Magic, averaging 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds.
The Magic also made another terrific trade during last season, sending J.J. Redick to Milwaukee for Tobias Harris, and Harris looked like a future star once he got playing time with the Magic. However, he has yet to play this season because of a severely sprained ankle and looks like at least a few weeks away from returning. Glen "Big Baby" Davis, a projected starter, also has yet to play this year with a foot injury. The Magic would love to trade him and guards Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo to free up salary and add more draft picks/young players. I think the future is bright in O-Town assuming they land the right guy in next summer's draft. There will be a market for Afflalo, who almost was traded for Eric Bledsoe.
Magic at Hawks NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Hawks opened as 8.5-point favorites with a total of 199.5. All Magic trends entering Friday: Orlando is 5-0 ATS (2-0 on road) and 2-3 “over/under” (1-1 on road). Atlanta is 3-2 ATS (1-0 at home) and 5-0 O/U (1-0 at home). Orlando has covered 14 of its past 20 Saturday games. The Hawks are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 home games against teams with a losing road record. The over is 7-1 in Orlando's past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 13-3 in Atlanta's past 16 overall. The Magic are 2-6 ATS in their past eight in Atlanta.
Free NBA Picks: Magic at Hawks Betting Predictions
Atlanta has played just one home game and beat the Raptors by seven. The Hawks were a good team at home last year and I presume will be again. The Magic were terrible on the road and should be a bit better, but they are still young. So winning a road game in the second of a back-to-back is too much to ask. However, covering that many points isn't as it's about a 45-minute flight from Orlando to Atlanta. So it's barely travel. Take Orlando, which has lost straight in this series, and the over.
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