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Coming off their first playoff appearance in nearly a decade, the Orlando Magic have stumbled out of the gate to start the season. The Magic are coming off a strong win at home over the Phoenix Suns.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers have experienced much of the same, falling to one of the worst marks in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are heading into the contest after a blowout loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Friday's game sets up a chance for both teams to get some much-needed momentum in the right direction.
Magic looking to build momentumComing off their first playoff berth in nearly a decade, the Magic have stumbled out of the gate to start the season, falling out of playoff contention. It has seen their usual offensive struggles flare up averaging just 103.5 points per contest while shooting 43.5 percent from the floor. These issues have largely been the reason of what's kept them from truly moving forward as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. The team has been able to rely on the strong production from All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic as their primary scoring option as he's averaging 17.1 points and 11.6 rebounds while shooting 45.0 percent from the floor. Vucevic has been dealing with an injury as of late that has kept him off the floor over the last couple of weeks and looks to be nearing his return to the team.
Last night marks the third time in franchise history that we have scored 125+ in consecutive games. (and it's our third straight win!) pic.twitter.com/ynyL1FwaKA— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 5, 2019
In his absence, it has seen guard Evan Fournier take up a more significant role offensively as he's averaging a team-best 19.8 points on 49.2 percent shooting from the floor and 44.6 percent from beyond the arc. Fournier has been their most consistent offensive factor as of late with more than 20 points in four out of the last five games played, including more than 30 points three times during that span. However, their calling card has been their defense, which has allowed 103.4 points per contest that has helped them remain afloat when they've experienced offensive woes. Their defense should be a big factor on the road against an offensively-challenged Cavs team on Friday night. Orlando's stout defense mixed with Cleveland's lackluster scoring should play in their favor.
Cavaliers hoping to break throughIt has been a frustrating campaign for the Cavaliers that has seen them experience many growing pains along the way. They have moved to almost entirely a rebuilding team with a large chunk of their primary production coming from inexperienced players. Their primary scorer has been second-year point guard Collin Sexton, who is averaging 18.1 points and 2.5 assists while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor in the first 20 games played. Sexton has stepped up his scoring in the last five games, putting up more than 15 points in each contest while shooting greater than 50 percent from the floor three times over that stretch. In fact, he tallied double-digit scoring in each game that has pushed his active streak to 43 straight games that dates back to February of last season.
Former All-Star forward Kevin Love has been highly consistent, averaging a double-double with 16.7 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor. Love has posted eight double-doubles through the first 17 games, but his production has dipped in the last five games as he has failed to reach double-digit scoring in three out of the last four games. That alone speaks to the team's struggles offensively this season, putting up just 104.2 points per contest while shooting 43.6 percent from the floor. That will be the difference in Friday's game, with the Magic's defense proving to be the difference with the Cavaliers as they have struggled to score north 0f 110 points in four out of their last five contests.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Cleveland is 2-7 ATS in their last nine contests when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Cleveland is 2-7 ATS in their last nine games following a straight-up loss.
- Cleveland is 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
- Orlando is 4-0 ATS in their last four road games against a team with a losing home record.
- Orlando is 4-1 ATS in their last five games after scoring more than 125 points in their previous game.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
These are two teams that have had their fair share of struggles to begin the year, but it has simply been too difficult to trust the Cavaliers at this point. They have been one of the worst teams in the league for a reason, and that will show once again on Friday night against the Magic. It will be Orlando's defense that sets the tone in the contest as it has been what has helped them grab wins in four out of their last five contests. It will only be a competitive contest solely due to the Magic's lack of strong offensive production.
Prediction: Orlando -3.5
Full-Game Total Pick
With that in mind, it will be a game dictated by the Magic's play defensively that has been one of the better in the league. Yes, they allowed 114 points to the Suns, but Phoenix is a far greater opponent than what the Cavaliers have shown through this point of the season. The Magic should be able to hold their own in a similar fashion to Wednesday night, but it will be Cleveland's shortcomings on that end of the floor that puts this game below the over/under line. It should be noted that the Cavaliers have only cracked 106 points once in the last five games.
Prediction: Under 212.5