Saturdays Results : 1-3
All Time Results: 30-39-2, +0.425 Units
Philadelphia 76ers -1.5 @ Orlando Magic – 2 Units
1. This line would seem right to me – if Joel Embiid weren’t playing. But he is. And playing at an incredibly high level. Embiid has been a monster in the past 6 games since returning from injury: putting up 29/16/3 to go along with 3.0 stealblocks. Of all the centers in the league, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic might be the most offensive minded. If the Magic want to take away Embiid with double teams, Reddick and Harris will be ready to catch and shoot, and Ben Simmons & Jimmy Butler will be ready to break them down inside.
2. Sixers are on a 6-2 ATS run vs. the Magic, including 4-2 since Ben Simmons’ debut. One of those losses was in November this year when the Sixers gave up a 15 point 4th quarter lead on Jimmy Butler’s 76ers debut. The 76ers are far more together and in-sync than they were back then. Plus they now have the addition of former Magic Tobias Harris. In that game the Magic were home getting 5.5 points. All things considered it’s hard for me to imagine the Magic have improved that much more than Philly has in the interim. I have the line handicapped closer should closer to 5.5 than the current number.
3. Magic getting a little love from the market after putting together a 4 game win streak – but none of those wins were particularly impressive, as all the games were against lottery teams.
4. Picking a road team on a back-to-back again: that is how little respect I have for this Magic team’s top end potential.
Brooklyn Nets +6.5 @ Portland Trail Blazers – .5 Units
1. The Brooklyn Nets have had quite a road trip. They followed up a once-in-a-lifetime 4th quarter rally in Sacramento with another strong 4th-quarter win three nights later in L.A.. Given that these games have been spread out, I don’t think they will be worn out. Instead they will be enthusiastic and energized by their recent stellar play. Portland, on the other hand is playing their 3rd game in 5 nights as they adjust to not having their 2nd leading scorer CJ McCollum.
2. The Trail Blazers are a solid 4-0 SU without CJ McCollum – however if you look at those wins – vs. Phoenix (without Devin Booker) vs. Pacers (without Oladipo), vs. Dallas & vs. Detroit – they haven’t had to deal yet with a team with the perimeter firepower of the Nets. With a total here of 223, I am expecting a lot of possessions and in this case D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert & Spencer Dinwiddie to use those extra days of rest to put on their turbo attacks and punish the Blazers in transition.
Damian Lillard Over 26.5 points – .5 Units
1. Just because I don’t think Lillard can keep up with the Nets guards by himself doesn’t mean I don’t expect him to try. If this game plays out the way I think it will, I expect a lot of Lillard transition bombs – and a lot of dives to the cup ending Brooklyn runs. Russell has improved on defense – but he is still a liability that a top 3 scoring point guard like Lillard can exploit.
2. Including some slower pace games, Lillard is averaging 29.0 points in games that his running mate McCollum has missed.