The Orlando Magic (15-30) will be in Los Angeles to face the Lakers (29-17) in what will be the final matchup of a four-game slate on Sunday in the NBA. This game will be an intriguing one for many reasons and a game that might be tough to decide on a wager.
Several new faces are making their Orlando debut in this one. Trading Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic will cause the Magic to lose a lot right now but will give them better draft stock and also provide depth for the next two months. Wendell Carter Jr., R.J. Hampton, and Otto Porter Jr. should be making their team debuts while Gary Harris continues to recover.
L.A., meanwhile, comes off a massive win over the Cavaliers on Friday night. It snapped a four-game skid and provided them their first win without LeBron James this year. With James and Anthony Davis continuing to remain out, the Lakers have to do whatever they can to scrape together wins. Denver and Portland are catching up fast, and a few more losses in a row could send the Lakers into the play-in.
The Lakers are the favorites, at -6.5, and the over/under is set at a meager 207.5 points. Tipoff is at 10:00 P.M. Eastern
Magic Seek to Upend Lakers
It has been a rough year for the Magic, the bad luck beginning in the bubble. Jonathan Isaac suffered an injury that would cost him the entirety of this season. Then, Markelle Fultz tore his ACL in the early weeks of the year. With those two guys out, their entire defensive identity is no longer on the floor. The team has been lagging behind almost from day one.
They moved on from Evan Fournier, Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon, whom they may have lost in free agency anyway. Many young guys will get the opportunities now, including second-year rookie Chuma Okeke and third-year center Mo Bamba. Wendell Carter is still young and could fit nicely here as a long-term big man.
The Magic will use the rest of this year to assess the new players and make some decisions about the future.
Lakers Look for Small Win Streak
Before LeBron went down, L.A. was proving that they were able to tread water with Davis out. But when you take the two best players out of a lineup and are left with role players, it won’t be good. The team is also finalizing a deal with Andre Drummond, who will likely step right in as the starting center, despite not playing since February 12.
It has been a trying year for Los Angeles. The free-agent acquisitions not named Montrezl Harrell struggling to fit in. Kyle Kuzma has not done a great job but has been serviceable as a starter in recent weeks. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews have struggled to shoot the ball in recent weeks, with Caldwell-Pope’s FG percentage at 34.3% and Matthews’ at 41.4% over the last four games.
If L.A. can stick to the style that helped them beat Cleveland, they should be fine. The Lakes are facing a team with no identity, so if they stick to what they know, they will secure the win.
The Pick is In
With one team playing shorthanded and the other lacking an identity, the pick here is the team who has played together longer. Chemistry counts.
Take the Lakers to beat the Magic Sunday night.
BETTING PICK: Los Angeles Lakers (-6.5)
OVER/UNDER: OVER 207.5
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