New Orleans Pelicans @ Orlando Magic
The New Orleans Pelicans have to be one of the poorer rosters in the NBA with the injuries they are having to contend with, but they have begun to show some fight in recent games. Anthony Davis is one of the best players in the NBA, but he has lacked support for most of the season, although the fact they have won two of their last three games suggests the Pelicans are finding some chemistry.
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Although I accept New Orleans are not a great team at this moment, I don’t think Orlando Magic should be favoured to beat anyone by as many points as these, as they have been offensively challenged. Three times in their last five games the Magic have scored 80 points or fewer and that is not going to get it done against any team in the NBA.
There have been some positives about the defensive side of the court, but the Pelicans will feel they can have some joy in this one, considering they have scored 94 points or more in six straight games. New Orleans should be able to have an edge when it comes to the battle for rebounds, while their bench have been playing pretty well in recent games.
The concern for the Pelicans is the lack of defense at the three point arc, which has seen teams hurt them. However they won’t believe Orlando can take full advantage of that and the Magic are 0-2 against the spread, when being favoured by 3.5 points or fewer this season. Frank Vogel has admitted there is a lot of work to do for Orlando after another poor performance in the loss to the Pacers and this feels too many points for them to give up.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: New Orleans Pelicans +3.5 Points at 1.98 with 888 Sport
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Both the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder have six wins this season and have winning records, but there is a different feel for both teams coming into this one. While the Rockets have won three of their last four games to move to 6-4, the Oklahoma City Thunder have dropped four in a row to fall to 6-5 and the absence of Kevin Durant is becoming more noticeable.
There was little doubt the Thunder would feel the loss of one of the best players in the NBA, but Russell Westbrook’s energy helped them make a fast start which perhaps raised hopes. Now it feels like they have come back down to earth as teams key in on Westbrook and see if someone else on this roster can beat them.
Aside from the blow out in Detroit, the Thunder have had some close losses which will keep them believing, but they would dearly love a big win over a rival like Houston. James Harden was the first member of the Thunder that surprisingly moved on, although his departure looks worse in hindsight as he was a Sixth Man of the Year with Oklahoma City rather than a starter. He has been on a tear since moving to Houston and Harden has been in fine form to open the season, which makes his match up with Westbrook intriguing to say the least.
The difference is that Harden does receive some solid support from this team mates and the Rockets are also defensively better than the numbers, particularly slowing down the three point shot. That is likely to be a big part of this game with the Thunder a little more susceptible to the deep shot and that can be a big reason why they fail to stay with the Rockets.
Both teams would like to look after the ball better, but I think Harden and his team mates offer more offensively, which can be key in a high scoring game. The Rockets are 6-0 against the spread against Oklahoma City and they are 2-1 against the spread when given 2.5 points or fewer this season. I will take the points again here.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Houston Rockets +2 Points at 1.97 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.