Thunder vs. Magic Pick NBA – Jan 18th

I’ve written a great deal about the Atlanta Hawks lately, all well-deserved, but definitely thoroughly covered here on thesportsgeek.com. But what they just capped off last night is worth a mention. They completed their second road back-to-back against top tier teams in the last two weeks, this time winning comfortably over Toronto and Chicago on back-to-back nights. Kyle Korver had a game-high 24 points on NINE shots. NINE. That’s nearly three points per shot attempt – and that’s all you need to know about the efficiency of this Atlanta team. Something special is brewing in a place where so-so is the status quo, and it’s a blast to watch.

Meanwhile, all good things must come to a close, and my winning streak was snuffed out by a lousy Sixers effort and even 13 ½ points wasn’t enough to get them a cover against streaking Detroit. We will get back to the grind today and try to start a winning streak anew. Not that I am ever complaining about a nine-game run, but I don’t think we are quite dry on winners just yet….

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Today’s Free Pick:

Oklahoma City Thunder -9.5 at Orlando Magic

The Thunder looked fantastic Friday night in their nationally-televised romp over Golden State. However, prior to that they had failed to cover in six of seven games (0-6-1 ATS) and have been a pretty lousy bet. So is Friday an indication that things are stabilizing in OKC, or should wagerers still be wary of the mercurial Thunder?

Meanwhile, the Magic may not be piling up many wins, but they are playing decent basketball, led by the emerging Victor Oladipo. They have covered in four of their last five games and five of their last seven, including Wednesday’s straight-up win over Houston. I don’t think they win tonight outright, but the recent trends say nine and a half points might be a little rich.

It sounds a little counter-intuitive, but the Magic have actually played a little better since leading scorer Tobias Harris went down with an ankle injury. They are 2-2 without him and he is unlikely to suit up tonight. In fact, it is not that uncommon for young teams whose “best player” probably isn’t their “best” player to actually fare well when he is out; it frees up about 15-20 shot attempts and lets some of the younger talent (Oladipo) become more of a focal point of the offense.

I like Orlando to play a surprisingly competitive game tonight, and I’ll take the Magic, who are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings head-to-head, to get the cover tonight.

Free Pick: Orlando Magic +9.5

Chris Scheeren / Author