The Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic are both riding a four-game winning run, and the two teams will look to keep the streak alive in the final set of NBA regular season games before the All-Star weekend.
Orlando take on the Charlotte Hornets at home, but they know they can’t underestimate the visiting team who will be aiming to make a statement before they welcome the All-Star participants and fans in the Queen City.
On the other hand, the Thunder face the New Orleans Pelicans in a game where All-Star big man Anthony Davis isn’t expected to make an impact—just like in his previous outing.
Charlotte Hornets @ Orlando Magic (February 15, 08:00 GMT+8)
Four straight wins had the Magic dreaming of the playoffs once again.
Before their win against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week—the game that sparked their incredible run—Orlando managed to win just three of their previous 11 matches. They seemed to be well out of the race in the East, with the Detroit Pistons clinging mightily on the eighth spot.
First-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic has been pivotal for them during that stretch, but it was Terrence Ross who made the difference. In their three matches last week, Ross led all Magic scorers with 21.7 points while shooting 48.0 percent from the field and 44.0 percent from beyond the arc.
It remains to be seen if Orlando can keep up that production, but it’s worth noting that they thrashed the Pelicans recently even though Ross struggled.
The Hornets won’t be easy opponents. Not with point guard Kemba Walker raring to provide some of the best NBA 2019 highlights before he represents Charlotte in the All-Star Game.
However, it’s quite concerning that the team ranks as the fifth worst team on the road in the East. In fact, they have won just once in their last six away games, losing to the Indiana Pacers twice over that period.
Betting Tip: Asian Handicap Orlando Magic -3.50 @ 2.02.
New York Knicks @ Atlanta Hawks (February 15, 08:30 GMT+8)
The New York Knicks are still the worst team in the NBA; but hey, at least they are more fun to watch now with the high-flying Dennis Smith Jr. and the explosive DeAndre Jordan running the show in the Big Apple.
There’s nothing wrong with losing with flare!
Anyway, the Atlanta Hawks will like their chances against the Knickerbockers who own the unwanted record for the longest losing streak this 2018-19 season (18).
The Hawks are a rebuilding team, sure, but no team wants to fight them at the right night. Just ask LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers who received a sucker punch when the “lowly” Hawks beat them 117-113.
Atlanta have shown flashes that they could be the next team to watch in the NBA. And in John Collins and Trae Young, they have a solid foundation for the future.
Second-year forward John Collins is almost a double-double machine with 19.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Young—16.9 points and 7.6 assists per contest—would have been the runaway Rookie of the Year if not for Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic.
Betting Tip: Under 224.60 @ 1.88.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ New Orleans Pelicans (February 15, 09:00 GMT+8)
The Thunder are making noise!
With Paul George putting an incredible season—one in which he is in the race for the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards—the NBA 2019 odds, even ones at us, are slowly swinging to their favour.
It does help them that Russell Westbrook seems to have put away his ego, embracing the role of a sidekick (again!) and erasing the notion that he is a soloist.
Things are working well for the Thunder, and that was highlighted when George and Westbrook became only the 10th duo in NBA history to record triple-doubles in one game (versus the Portland Trail Blazers). Even more amazing, they combined for 68 points, which is the highest scoring output by teammates with triple-doubles.
A case could be made that Russ and Paul is the best duo in the league right now, and no pair could even come close (sorry Steph and KD!).
The Pelicans know the threat that the two Thunder players bring, but they won’t have their hopes up as they continue to pick up the pieces after their chaotic trade deadline.
New Orleans’ franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis requested a trade, but the Pelicans decided to wait it out until the summer before assessing their trade options. Now, the team is limiting Davis’ playing time t just 25 minutes a night.
Davis scored a measly three points in their recent blowout loss to the Magic.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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