Indiana Pacers vs. Orlando Magic – NBA, April 9, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| April 9, 2021 2:39 am PDT

Both of these teams seemingly have very little to play for at first glance. I say that because the Pacers have very little chance of making the automatic playoff spots, and the Magic have next to no chance of making any playoff spot.

However, if you delve deeper, you will see that they have their own individual battles going on at present. The Pacers sit ninth in the Eastern Conference, and although they are comfortably clear of the 11th placed Raptors, they aren’t that far ahead of the tenth-placed Chicago Bulls.

Why do they need to finish ahead of the Bulls, I hear you ask? Finishing ninth at present will mean they face the Knicks in the pre-playoff round, and they will undoubtedly fancy their chances against them. However, if they drop down and finish tenth, they would come up against the Celtics, which would be a whole different challenge.

Orlando is in the rebuilding process for next season. As a result, they will want to avoid finishing bottom of the Division and Conference as it will surely be more difficult to attract players in the offseason to the team that finished bottom of the heap.

They are on the verge of letting center Khem Birch leave the franchise as they look to take a more youthful approach. Birch has spent four years in Orlando, but the Canadian looks set to return home to Canada to play with the Raptors.

Avoiding that fate won’t be easy, given they have lost to the Pacers on the previous four occasions they have met. However, when they met back in January, it took overtime to separate the two teams, so they are getting closer to a win over Indiana.

It took a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in the clock to sink the Magic, and although that will have been touch to take for Orlando, they will know that they have it in them to push the Pacers all the way. They dominated the battle on the boards that night, and if they can do that once again while adjusting a few things here and there, it could be them that leaves the Amway Center with the win.

Indiana has enjoyed visiting Orlando as they have picked up a win on five of their last six visits to the Magic face a tough ask tonight.

Here is my Pacers vs. Magic betting preview.

Pacers vs. Magic Odds

Pacers -4.5-110
Magic +4.5-110
Pacers To Win-182
Magic To Win+160
Over 219.5 Points-110
Under 219.5 Points-110

The spread looks about right for this matchup and is almost identical to the one they had when they played against each other back in January.

The points total has jumped up four points since that night, but I still believe it could be a couple of points short and therefore could offer some value. Especially given 18 of the Pacer’s 26 games on the road this season have gone over the betting total. Also, 11 of their 15 away fixtures against Eastern Conference opposition have followed suit.

The Magic have only won five of the 21 matches they have found themselves as the underdogs to Eastern Conference opponents.

Assessing the Pacers

The Pacers have won two of their last three games, but their sole defeat is what stands out most during those games as it came against the team that is chasing them for ninth spot, the Chicago Bulls. Although the Pacers got dominated that night, it must be said that they had a lot of players missing from their line-up. One thing that also stands out when you look at their last three defeats is that their offense failed on each occasion as they posted 97-points or less per game.

Indiana has been good on the road this season as they have won 14 and lost 12 of their 26 road trips. They head into this one in excellent form away from home, having won four of their previous six away fixtures.

Here are the latest betting trends for Indiana:

Against The Spread

  • They have only won six of their previous 20 matches.
  • Indiana is 2-5 in their previous seven matches against the Magic.
  • They have only lost one of their last ten games in Orlando.

Points Total

  • The total has gone over in 13 of their previous 20 matches.
  • Only three old their last 15 games on the road has failed to cover the betting total.

Other Pointers

  • They have only lost four of their previous 20 matches against the Magic.
  • The Pacers have lost five of their last six games against teams from the east coast.
  • Indiana has only won two of their previous eight matches played in April.

The Pacers have a decent offense this season, mainly down to a very respectable field goal percentage of 47%.

However, they have struggled to make an impact on the boards at both ends of the court, which has led to their downfall on many occasions this season. There is only one team that has worse rebounding figures than them in the league this season to highlight their struggles.

Their defense is lacking and needs some work across the board as there are gaps and weaknesses all over their game. They have especially struggled against teams who are good at shooting from deep, but that shouldn’t be the case tonight.

They are making a high number of steals which is compensating for their lack of rebounding somewhat. T. J. McConnell’s guile and craftiness as helped in this department and many opponents have seen the point guard as a pest this season which means he is doing an excellent job for his team.

The Pacers are also the second-best blocking team in the NBA this season, so they do have things they can work with. Myles Turner has contributed to most of these as he leads the league in blocks made this season. However, he missed the win over the Timberwolves, and it looks like he will be out tonight also, which is a significant loss to the Pacer’s already fragile defense.

As well as Turner, the Pacers will also miss Warren tonight through a foot injury. They also have doubts over the fitness of Sabonis and Brogdon tonight.

Magic Recent Form

The Magic find themselves on a run of three straight defeats. Not only have they lost, but they have also lost badly by margins of 46, 10, and 15. Their defense has been non-existent, shipping an average of 129-points per game over those three matches.

Their home form has been poor this season, having won ten and lost 16 of their 26 games played in Orlando. They have only won two of their previous ten home fixtures, but the wins did come against good opposition in the Suns and the Nets.

Here are the latest betting trends for Orlando:

Against The Spread

  • They have only lost two of their previous eight matches.
  • Orlando is 2-4 in their last six games played in April.

Points Total

  • Four of their previous five matches have gone over the betting total.
  • All of their last six games against Indiana have seen the points total go over.
  • Only one of their previous five matches at home has failed to go over the betting total.

Other Pointers

  • The Magic have only won four of their last 20 games.
  • They have lost eight of their previous nine matches against Eastern Conference teams.
  • Orlando is 4-8 in their last 12 games against teams based in the Central Division.

The Magic have arguably the worst offense in the league this season for a simple reason; they can’t shoot. They have a 43% field goal success rate which is the worst in the NBA. However, one thing that stands out about their home form is they are considerably better at making three-pointers than they are on the road. They are ranked 24th overall in the league for their three-point success rate, which jumps up to 6th when you solely look at their games played in Orlando. This is too big a jump to be a coincidence.

Their biggest weakness is how they use the ball, as they are making far too many turnovers and not enough assists this season. Due to their excellent rebounding unit, they tend to see a lot of the ball, and if they can show more composure, they might start to score more points by making more openings each game. It’s strange because they show this in defense as they are a very well-drilled and disciplined team, but that seems to all go out of the window when they receive the ball.

Their defense has been better but is still considered to be sub-standard. Their defensive rebounding has been their biggest strength this season, and given how poor the Pacers are at rebounding, this is an area they will look to dominate, as they did when they met in January.

However, they aren’t blocking the ball very well this season which will be their biggest concern going up against a team shooting as well as the Pacers are this season.

The Magic have a long list of absentees tonight as Porter Junior, Isaac, Fultz, and Mane have been ruled out. However, they are hopeful that Harris will return following a hip injury.

Pacers vs. Magic Betting Pick

Pick
  • Over 219.5 Points
    -110

I have gone with my gut a lot recently, and it has treated me well, so I see no reason to change that approach here tonight. I said that the points total looked low here, and I will stick by that for the following reasons. Both teams have seen the majority of their games go over the points total recently.

The last four games involving the Magic have seen a total scored higher than the one set here, as well as three of the Pacer’s previous four away fixtures. The key to this game going over the points total could be the absence of Myles Turner, who has been one of the best defensive players of the season.

With his absence, even the Magic’s offense will fancy scoring quite a few points, especially seen as they are likely to win the rebounding battle between the two teams.

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