Coming into tonight’s matchup between the Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers, both teams find themselves on the wrong end of a streak. Orlando is currently on a two-game losing streak and holds the worst record in the NBA at 12-43. However, they are 4-6 over their last ten games, showing some signs of life as we head into the All-Star break. They have a record of 7-23 away from Orlando and will look to improve on that record tonight at the Moda Center. As for Portland, it can only be described as a messy situation up in Oregon. They have lost five straight games and seven of their last ten overall. They are 21-33 and find themselves outside the play-in standings in the Western Conference. Without star Damian Lillard, this team has struggled and has led to them trading away two of their better wing players in a trade that many looked at as a steal for the other team. Portland is in the midst of a rut currently but with the worst team in the league coming into their building, they have a chance to break their losing streak. These two teams played each other a few weeks ago with Portland coming out on top out in Orlando by a score of 98-88. Tonight’s game will be the final time these teams meet in this regular season so the Magic will be looking to split the season series while the Blazers are looking to sweep their cross-county opponents.
How Orlando can win: There hasn’t been much to be happy about for Orlando this season, but they do have some promising young players on their roster. Guard Cole Anthony has been a bright spot for the Magic, averaging 17.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6 assists per game while shooting 38.9 percent from the field. This Magic team will need him to score tonight if they are to get another road win. Anthony has the ability to put up good numbers but at time has struggled with consistency. If he can get into an early rhythm, it could go along way in this game. Alongside him has been rookie Franz Wagner, who is averaging 15.7 points per game. The pair has allowed the Magic to be an entertaining basketball team but one that just can’t seem to win games just yet.
Orlando as a team has the 28th overall offense in the NBA and is scoring 103 points per game. Their defense is 22nd in the league and allow 111.4 points per game to opposing teams. Going up against Portland on the road, the defense will need to step up and limit the Blazers easy shot opportunities.
How Portland can win: Still without Damian Lillard and now having traded Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers, the Blazers find themselves possibly in rebuild mode. There have been rumors about them trading away guard CJ McCollum before next weeks trade deadline but for now he is the best player on the active roster. In the 36 games that he has played this season, McCollum is averaging 20.5 points and the team will need him to take on more of the scoring load if they are to beat the Magic today. He and guard Anfernee Simons have made a nice duo since Lillard went down with an injury as Simons has really embraced his opportunity. Simons is averaging 15.8 points per game but has emerged as a legit scoring option for Portland. If these two can get going for the Blazers, it could be a long night for Orlando.
Portland owns the 20th ranked offense in the NBA and is scoring 107.8 points per game while their defense is 27th in the league, allowing 112.3 points to opposing teams. Against a team like Orlando who struggles to score the ball at times, the Blazers should rely on what they are good at such as limiting second chance opportunities. They are third in the NBA at doing this and will need to continue to win the small battles within the game if they want to break their losing streak.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Moneyline: ORL: (+144) | POR: (-172)
Spread: ORL: +4 (-110) | POR: -4 (-110)
Final Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers 104 Orlando Magic 98
-Both of these teams come in with their own set of problems, but the Blazers do have the ability to throw out McCollum, who could make the difference in a game this close. Backing Portland right now is risky but then again, they are playing the worst team in the league. Orlando will fight and keep this game close but, in the end, give me Portland to come out on top and squeak out a win at home.