Orlando at Boston -8 O/U 205.5
This is a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions right now. On January 1st, the Magic had a one game lead over the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Playoff race, sitting in fifth place in the East. Since that time, Orlando has gone into a 1-11 SU, 2-10 ATS tailspin, falling into a tie at #12 in the East. Meanwhile, the Celtics have won four straight and seven of their last nine, a surging team here in January.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Magic of late, a team finding ways to lose. They dropped back-2-back overtime games, then blew a 16 point lead and watched a one point deficit turn into a seven point final margin of defeat in the final 15 seconds at Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The quotes coming out of the Orlando locker room during this skid have been universally negative, with players and staff appearing to prod each other through the media. Tobias Harris, following a crushing OT defeat at home to Charlotte last weekend: "In difficult times you have to fight your way through and you've got to come with a positive attitude every single day. If we just sit around and mope and pout, that's going to affect us in the next game. We have to have a clear mindset and get back to where we want to be." Read between the lines and you can practically hear him ripping his teammates.”
Head coach Scott Skiles, following their previous loss, at home to lowly Philadelphia: "Our lack of competitiveness is frightening, really. They were pushing us all around on both ends of the floor and we basically capitulated. If that's all we can muster mentally, it's not going to look good for us the rest of the year. Our goal right now should be just simply to win a game."
Guard Victor Oladipo following the loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday "It's almost like a repetitive thing, almost like a bad dream. It’s tough, but (at) the end of the day our confidence can't waver because once that happens, it's over.” It’s surely worth noting that Orlando failed to win or cover despite a red hot night from three point range, connecting on 13-24 from beyond the arc. For a 35% three point shooting team, they’ll be hard pressed to match that level of long range efficiency tonight.
Boston’s offense has been productive all year, but it’s their defense that has keyed their recent surge, bad news for a struggling offense like that of the Magic. Celtics forward Amir Johnson following Wednesday’s win over Denver: “Really our main focus is defense. Once we get stops on defense we're able to get out and get finishes and points. Defense these last four games has been huge for us. Just lock down and stop our opponents."
Brad Stevens squad has hung 110+ on each of their last four opponents, winning every game by eight points or more during that span. Anything close to that level of production here and we can expect a comfortable win and cover for the home favorite.