Outside of the top five teams, the Eastern Conference hasn’t been very competitive this season. Two of the squads in that cluster between sixth and 10th place in the East are the 27-29 Charlotte Hornets and 26-32 Orlando Magic.
The Hornets and Magic will meet today in Orlando for their final game before the annual All-Star break (7 p.m. ET Thursday).
The Hornets are one of those team that plays pretty consistently average. Charlotte is 20-10 against teams with losing records but just 7-19 against teams .500 and above.
Orlando looked like it was headed toward the bottom tier of the East at the beginning of February. Now, the team is on a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2015 and it has won six out of seven games.
How will the matchup between two Southeast Division rivals play out? Let’s take a look at the primary storylines and then present some betting tips on the game’s spread and over/under as part of our concluding Charlotte Hornets vs Orlando Magic predictions.
Is the Hornets’ Recent Domination of the Magic a Factor Here?
Here’s one of the more surprising facts in recent NBA history: Charlotte has won its last 13 games against Orlando, dating back to December 2015. The average margin of victory for the Hornets has been 15.8 points in that stretch, so most of these games haven’t been all that close.
The weird thing about the Hornets’ domination is that they’ve been a consistently mediocre team in this stretch of consecutive wins against the Magic. Sure, the Magic have been worse, but you would have expected them to pick up at least a few wins out of those 13 contests.
There does seem to be a new energy in Orlando built around its youth, athleticism and versatility, though. Will the Magic’s home crowd push the team to break its streak of futility on this night, or will Charlotte’s experience, chemistry and historical matchup edge win out here?
Will Jonathan Isaac Continue His Solid Play Against Charlotte’s Combo Forwards?
Isaac entered the 2017 NBA Draft as a very raw prospect. At 6’10” with fluid athleticism, a respectable jumper and good defensive instincts, the Magic were understandably excited to pick him up.
His first season and a half was filled with several defensive flashes and the occasional nice offensive play, but not much consistency. In the last couple weeks, he has definitely come along on both ends of the floor. He is especially a big reason in the Magic having the NBA’s second-best defense since January 21.
Charlotte has a pair of two solid, experienced combo forwards in Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to match up against Isaac. Their games are more developed than Isaac’s, but Isaac has them both edged in terms of natural talent and length.
Isaac’s statistics in basically every category (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, all three shooting percentages) are better in Magic wins compared to Magic losses. Can he keep up his solid play?
Will Kemba Walker Take Advantage of Another Easier Point Guard Matchup?
Walker has topped 30 points in each of his last five games and has also averaged seven assists against only two turnovers per game in that span. He has gone against a string of teams that have trotted out weaker starting point guards, and he has torched each of them.
Orlando, unfortunately, is also weak at point guard. D.J. Augustin and Isaiah Briscoe aren’t going to intimidate Charlotte’s All-Star floor general. Walker has already had two efficient scoring games of 26 and 24 points against the Magic this year. That was despite him sitting the fourth quarter because the Hornets were already way ahead.
Walker needs to stay aggressive in this matchup. Briscoe is a good defender at the backup point guard spot, but if Walker heats up before Briscoe checks in, there is not really anything the Magic can do with Kemba.
Our Preview’s Charlotte Hornets vs. Orlando Magic Betting Picks & Predictions
I can definitely see this game going either way. The Magic are riding a wave of emotion and momentum right now, but a team with so much youth and inexperience is bound to come down at some point. Plus, Charlotte’s advantage at point guard is so huge that it will be tough for Orlando to make up for that in other ways.
In terms of the scoring in this game, I think the pace of this game will be faster than is characteristic for these teams, since both squads have the All-Star break to rest afterwards. Here goes with our Charlotte Hornets vs Orlando Magic predictions on today’s NBA game:
- Orlando is a 3.5-point favorite with all the major USA offshore bookies. I advise betting on the Hornets +3.5pts on the spread @ best odds of -105 with Bookmaker. It is -110 or even -115 with the other outlets.
- The projected totals for this game are understandably low (215 or 215.5) based on these teams’ playing styles, but bet the over on this game for the aforementioned reason plus the potential of Kemba Walker exploding for a massive scoring game. The final one of our two betting picks is to go over 214.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker. The other sportsbooks have the total at 215pts.