The Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic are both in the bottom-half of the Eastern Conference standings. But the Pacers have a lot more to play for than the Magic, as Indiana is still in position for a spot in the play-in tournament. In this matchup, the Pacers will look to take care of business against a Magic team just playing out the string.
Indiana has won two straight games, albeit against competition that isn’t exactly impressive. The Pacers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons in consecutive contests, only defeating those cellar-dwelling teams by six points apiece. Given the injury woes for the Pacers, though, getting any wins at all is an impressive feat.
The Pacers have been without the services of their key big men, with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner both missing time recently. Turner is the league’s best shot blocker, while Sabonis is a dynamic scorer and passer on the offensive end. Understandably, Indiana’s focus has been on getting them healthy prior to their likely appearance in the upcoming play-in tournament.
Against the Magic, the question for the Pacers will be how seriously they take this game. That will manifest itself both in the level of effort exhibited by the players on the floor along with the decisions on which players will appear for the Pacers. Indiana should be able to name its score in this contest, but may opt to save their best efforts for another day.
The Orlando Magic have lost four consecutive games and just one of their last 10 contests as their season is now focused more on the NBA Draft Lottery than on the court itself. Orlando’s lone loss by under 10 points during their recent four-game losing streak came against a Houston Rockets team that is also tanking to finish out the season.
This season, the Orlando Magic have the second worst average point differential in the NBA. The only team that has had a worse average margin per game is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who enter Sunday averaging a final deficit of 9.1 points per game. And the Orlando injury report looks like that of a team without much regard for winning.
The Magic injury report features several key players, including Terrence Ross, James Ennis and Otto Porter Jr. Combined with all of the moves that the Magic made to send talent away from the team at the trade deadline, the cupboard is virtually bare in Orlando at the moment. If Indiana plays at close to full strength, it is hard to imagine the Magic competing in this contest.
The Pick: Under 225.5
In this game, the depleted nature of both rosters makes it difficult to justify taking one side over the other against the spread. But the lack of top talent on both teams makes the under worth a look, especially before the Pacers announce who is playing and who is not. If Sabonis and Turner continue to sit for the Pacers, expect two teams without much offensive cohesion to play a low-scoring affair.