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ORLANDO MAGIC (13-4) at CHICAGO BULLS (9-6)
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The Magic are feeling good having won eight of the past nine games as they head to Chicago for the first of three Eastern Conference road games. Orlando welcomed back the return of Vince Carter, who missed three consecutive games with a knee injury, as he dropped 13 points in the 90-79 win over Detroit Tuesday night. Jameer Nelson, averaging 14.6 PPG and 6.8 APG, will have a tough defensive matchup against the fresh-legged Derrick Rose. Rose has played beautifully in the past six contests (DNP against Denver, sore neck), with 30.5 PPG to raise his season scoring average to 26.6 (third in NBA). Rose is also eighth in the league in assists with 8.2 APG.
Orlando is 4-2 SU on the road but has not been making bettors happy with a 0-6 ATS road record. Tired legs could be an issue for the Magic Wednesday night in Chicago, where the Bulls are 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS) and have three days of rest under their belt. After a two-week, seven-game road trip (4-3 SU, 6-1 ATS), the Bulls return to United Center where they are 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS). Chicago ended its road trip (due to the circus in town) with a 96-85 win in Sacramento. Wednesday’s matchup will be a fun one in the paint as the second-highest rebounder, Joakim Noah (13.2 RPG) faces the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and fourth-best rebounder, Dwight Howard (12.1 RPG).
85% of action at Sportsbook.com is behind the underdog Magic, in spite of the fact that the Bulls have covered five straight.
Orlando crushed the Bulls by 20 in the last meeting in Chicago, but the series is an even 2-2 (SU and ATS) in Chicago over the past three seasons. Even though the Magic have won five of the last seven overall, the well-rested Bulls look good to win one at home.
Play On - Home teams (CHICAGO) - after successfully covering the spread in 4 or more consecutive games, in a game involving two good teams (60% to 75%). (30-10 over the last 5 seasons.) (75%, +19 units. Rating = 2*).
NBA: Playoff home teams wise wagers tonight?
Orlando and Dallas each won their opening first round game and look to build a solid 2-0 lead in their series before taking to the road for a pair. Both teams have been a solid investment of late; however both are matched against division foes that know them well. Can they continue to win or do two coaching legends come up with ways to not only cover the spread, but derail plans of sweeping the initial home encounters. Read on for a look at both games, then head over to the LIVE ODDS and GAME MATCHUPS page on Sportsbook.com for the latest prices and key betting information.
The Magic rather easily built a 22-point in the third quarter against Charlotte, before the Bobcats got with the program and started to play closer to their abilities.
Charlotte was too excited to start Game 1 – “We were a little nervous starting off the game, and they knew it,” forward Gerald Wallace said.
But with some well-timed coaxing from coach Larry Brown, Charlotte battled back to 85-80 by being the aggressor and getting Dwight Howard off his game with extremely physical play.
Howard admitted to receiving little sleep the night before, anxious to start the playoffs and he played liked someone tired and irritable with not enough time on the pillow. Howard had as many fouls as points (5), playing less than 28 minutes. “Superman” was less than super with only seven boards and took silly fouls.
“Their big guys are going to hit him every chance they get. And if he gets one foul retaliating, they’ve done their job,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He can’t get any of those. He’s just going to have to understand no matter how many times they hit him, he can’t hit back. We need him on the floor.”
Orlando came up just short of covering the 9.5-point spread with 98-89 victory and is 21-11 ATS off a home win this season.
The Bobcats are expected to be much more relaxed this time with Wallace and Stephen Jackson as the scoring leaders. Charlotte is 18-9 ATS versus good three point shooting teams (36 percent or higher) and must do a better job containing Jameer Nelson, who was 4-8 from beyond the arc and scored 24 of his 32 points in the second half. Nelson missed the first three rounds of the playoffs a year ago and wants to show his skills this spring.
The Magic are 18-5 ATS off two or more consecutive home wins and are 20-3 and 15-7-1 ATS since the beginning of March. Sportsbook.com has them as 8.5-point picks with a total of 186 and they are 17-7 UNDER off a no-cover where they won straight up as a favorite.
If Orlando loses focus again, Charlotte will try to sneak right in with a 22-9 ATS mark after covering two of its last three against the spread.
It’s often been said in NBA circles that if Dirk Nowitzki is your best player, the chances of NBA title are remote. In his career, Nowitzki has had his postseason up and downs, however has been a much steadier performer in recent years. His Game 1 effort against oft-seen rival San Antonio, deep in the heart of Texas, was close to perfection.
Nowitzki scored 36 points on 12-14 shooting, wore out the nets sinking all 12 free throw attempts and grabbed seven boards while committing a single turnover. “Sometimes,” Nowitzki said, “you have one of those nights where the basket is big.”
The Mavericks have now defeated the Spurs six straight times on their home floor (5-1 ATS) and were the bigger and more aggressive team on Sunday. Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood out-muscled and out-hustled San Antonio, contributing to 45-37 edge on the glass.
Richard Jefferson was brought to San Antonio to make them younger on the wings and add speed and quickness. For most of the season he’s looked lost in the black uniform and he was non-factor again with four points on four shots in Game 1. The Spurs are piteous 9-23 ATS revenging a road loss the last two seasons.
Coach Gregg Popovich’s defensive strategy might have to be altered if Nowitzki starts Game 2 where he left off. San Antonio played the German forward straight up with approximately five different defenders, eschewing the double team, trying to cover the other Mavs.
Tony Parker lacked his usual zip to the rim and the Spurs ball-handling was atrocious with 17 turnovers, 11 in the opening 12 minutes.
Dallas is a 3.5-point home favorite. Watch for signs of fatigue, since coach Rick Carlisle leaned heavily on his starters, with only three subs seeing significant time. The Mavericks have built a six-game winning streak (5-0-1 ATS) and despite a yearlong of bad angles, they are 18-7 ATS playing with two days rest since last season.
San Antonio is 1-8 ATS versus good passing teams averaging 23 or more assists a game. The Spurs are 23-9 OVER in revenge-mode off a road loss.
Both NBA playoff battles are on TNT, with the first game at 7:05 Eastern.
The StatFox Power Lines show Orlando by 13, Dallas by 2.