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NBA Betting Preview Celtics at Magic

January 22, 2009

NBA Betting Preview - Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic (Thursday 8:00 ET)

The Magic are 5-point home favorites with a game total of 192.5 at Sportsbook.com.

Orlando has covered eight of their last 10 games and bettors will be looking for more profits as they prepare to host the defending champion Boston Celtics on national television on Thursday night.

Dwight Howard of the Orlando MagicOrlando is 33-8 on the year and they're a league-best 28-12-1 against the spread (ATS). Their numbers on the road are even better with an incredible 17-5 straight-up and 16-5-1 ATS record.

The Magic' road prowess was on full display on their recent four game trip where they were perfect straight up and ATS.

Three of those wins were at San Antonio, Denver and the L.A. Lakers, and most think Orlando is playing the best basketball in the NBA right now.

The biggest reason for their improved play has been point guard Jameer Nelson. He is averaging almost 19 PPG in the last six weeks and is playing at an All-Star level.

Rookie shooting guard, Courtney Lee has played well since becoming a starter, and it improves the bench with veteran Keith Bogans playing with the second unit.

Boston has played well recently as well, winning five games in a row heading into their Wednesday Night clash in Miami. However, four of those wins were against Toronto and New Jersey, not exactly elite competition.

And while the Celtics have covered four out of their last five games, they are only 9-11 ATS on the road this year and they failed to win or cover at the other two elite teams in the NBA, Cleveland and the L.A. Lakers.

Another big issue in this game could be rest. The Celtics, with the older Big 3, are just 3-7 ATS in back-to-back situations.

Orlando has had a long rest since playing their last game on Saturday night. The only downfall to that is they could have some rust at the beginning of the game, especially with their patented long-range shooting.

These teams met once already in Boston with the Celtics winning 107-88 as 8 -point favorites on December 1st.

Nelson did not play in that game and Boston was in the midst of their 19-game winning streak. The C's went on to lose seven out of nine after that, showing vulnerability not seen since before last season.

The Magic beat the Celtics twice last year in Orlando, covering the spread both times although each game was very close.

One final note to check on in this game is the health of Celtics center Kendrick Perkins. He should be able to play after coming back from a shoulder injury and his strong inside presence is needed against Dwight Howard.

If Perkins is limited, then Kevin Garnett will have to guard Howard and that is a strength mismatch.

Pick: Orlando -5 (-110)

Check out the NBA basketball betting forum for more picks and information.


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