Some NBA teams are playing for playoff berths right now. Others have been out of that race for a while.
The 34-45 Charlotte Hornets and the 24-54 Orlando Magic have both known for at least a couple of weeks that they weren’t going to be occupying playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. However, the squads must still play out the rest of the regular season to learn more about the prospects they have on their rosters (7 p.m. ET Friday).
Charlotte is on a four-game losing streak due to a slumping defense. The Hornets are giving their young players a bit larger share of the minutes, and many of those guys are better on offense than defense.
The Magic have won their last two games, but their opponents (the Knicks and Mavericks) are both tanking right now. Their three games prior to the last two were all losses to teams near the bottom of the standings. Orlando is certainly focused on future development rather than current success at the moment.
Will the Hornets, being the better team, make up for the Magic’s home-court advantage today? Let’s decide on the important storylines for this game and come up with some betting predictions and picks.
Will Malik Monk’s Confidence Transfer To This Game?
Monk was supposed to be a major steal for the Hornets in last summer’s draft and a key contributor off the team’s bench in his rookie year. He got buried on the depth chart very quickly and had no rhythm in the very few minutes he did get to play.
Recently, though, Monk’s minutes have risen as the Hornets have realized that a playoff berth is out of reach. In his last three contests, he has averaged 18 points in 24 minutes per game on 46.7 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range. Prior to those games, his season averages were 5.3 points in 12.4 minutes per contest with shooting percentages of 33 and 32.4, respectively.
The Magic are playing a lot of unknown players right now in their search for a high draft pick, such as Rodney Purvis and Jamel Artis. This could be a perfect opportunity for Monk to explode for a big game.
Can Magic Keep Dwight Howard Off Glass?
Only six years ago, Howard was dominating the paint for the Magic. He made six All-Star teams and won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in Orlando in his eight years with the team.
The 32-year-old center has lost a lot of the otherworldly athleticism that made him so tough around the rim in his prime, but he is still a solid player who occasionally plays like a star. For example, he scored 32 points and grabbed 30 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets two weeks ago.
Howard’s best skill at the moment is definitely rebounding. He grabs 21.9 percent of available rebounds, which is very close to being the best mark in the NBA. Meanwhile, Orlando ranks fourth-last in offensive rebound percentage (20.1) and last in defensive rebound percentage (75.7). The Magic will need to work extra hard to make sure Howard doesn’t snare somewhere around 20 rebounds against them.
Can Orlando Keep Protecting Ball Against Conservative Charlotte Defense?
It’s likely that the Hornets will win the rebounding battle, so the Magic need to do something to make up for the possessions they will miss out on.
Fortunately for Orlando, the squad has protected the ball very well as of late. The Magic are averaging 10 turnovers per game in their last five contests, compared to 14.9 turnovers per game during the season prior to this stretch.
Charlotte is known for being a conservative defense that mainly aims to wall off the paint, which makes things easier for Orlando in terms of ball protection. However, the Magic are using a lot of inexperienced players and unfamiliar lineups that don’t have chemistry, so there’s still the chance that they struggle to maintain possession.
Our Preview’s Charlotte Hornets vs. Orlando Magic Betting Picks & Predictions
This is the time of season where a lot of blowouts happen. Even though the Magic are at home and the Hornets aren’t necessarily a good team, there’s a definite step up in the quality
Dwight Howard having a revenge game on his former team of eight years is also something that is certainly on the table. Orlando may spend a lot of the game guarding him with inexperienced players. Looking at the betting lines from the top rated oddsmakers, here are the Charlotte Hornets vs Orlando Magic predictions for this preview:
- The Hornets are a 5.5-point favorite and should be expected to win by at least six points. So the first of our picks is to bet on the Hornets -5.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes or BetOnline. The spread is 6pts with Bookmaker and Intertops.
- Both teams will play a lot of unfamiliar combinations that don’t have much chemistry on offense. However, the defensive effort will be high as both squads have players looking to prove themselves. For the total points likely to be scored in this NBA game, bet the under 211.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker, 5Dimes or BetOnline. The total is at 211pts with Bovada.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.