Magic at Raptors NBA Pick – Dec 21

It’s the Holiday season, so perhaps it is time for a glimpse of optimism.  Things haven’t been great basketball-wise in eiher of these two cities, but if you look at JUST the immediately recent past… ignore all the other games, look JUST at the last seven or eight days… you know, they could just maybe sneak into the Playoffs…

OK, Playoffs might be a bit ambitious, but you can’t fault Magic or Raptor fans for at least feeling better of late.  They square off tonight having won a combined eight straight games, a season-high for each team and their personal four game contributions.  Something has to give tonight… but in keeping with the Holiday spirit of optimism, one team will emerge with a five-game winning streak and will head home for Christmas with dreams of playoff berths dancing in their heads.

Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors -4 (Total: 187.5)

This should be an interesting game tonight, as both teams will be playing without their most significant inside scorer playing tonight.  The Raptors will be without Andrea Bargnani, while the Magic will be sans Big Baby Glen Davis.  Both have played well this season in relative anonymity.

Those two absences; though both play a very different style, largely offset each other.  The key injury tonight is the Raptors playing without Kyle Lowry.  It is hard to explain the Raptors winning streak without two of their best players for the past five games, but it feels more coincidence than causal to me.

The Magic have been getting career-high contributions not only from Davis, but also from shooting guard JJ Reddick.  They will need him to shoot well tonight to get the road win at Toronto.  He has been averaging over 16.3 points and shooting 50% from behind the arc (13 of 26).  I expect him to play well tonight at the Air Canada Centre and provide the offensive lift the Magic need.

The difference between these two teams’ winning streaks is that the Raptors came out of seemingly nowhere.  It is immediately following a six game losing streak and even with four wins they are still just 8-19.  The Magic on the other hand have won four in a row, but also seven of their last ten games and are now just one game under .500 at 12-13.  They have beaten the Lakers, Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors twice, both home and away, over the last three weeks.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense on paper, but it might be time to recognize that this isn’t as terrible a team as everyone expected them to be.

I am not sure Vegas has caught up to that notion yet.  The Magic are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games, and two of their three losses have been by half a point.  Tonight they are getting four points against an 8-19 ballclub missing two of their three best players.

I like the Magic and the points tonight.

Free Pick:  Orlando Magic +4

Chris Scheeren / Author