nba
19.03.2024

Charlotte Hornets @ Orlando Magic Game Preview and Pick: Richards Held in Check By Magic

Both the Hornets and Magic are younger teams compared to the rest of the league, but only one of them is currently trending in the right direction. Orlando has broken out and turned themselves into a legitimate playoff threat, while Charlotte has dealt with a handful of tough injuries that have held their offense at the bottom of the league in most metrics.

When these teams met a few weeks back, the Magic put on a dominant defensive performance, and I’m expecting a similar outing tonight, especially on the interior, against guys like Nick Richards.

Game Preview

Scoring is down in the NBA, and if you don’t believe me, the point total for this matchup opened at 203 and was bet down to 202.5. There are a few reasons for the lower-scoring outcomes across the league, but when it comes to the Hornets, a lack of offense is nothing new. With the injuries they’ve dealt with and their overall roster construction, they just don’t possess a lot of scoring depth to compete with defenses like Orlando’s.

In the 14 games that Charlotte has played since the All-Star break, they have finished under 100 points in eight, including their most recent loss to the Sixers. By scoring 98 points in that 11-point loss, the Hornets maintained their dead-last position for points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over the past two weeks (104.7), per Cleaning the Glass.

There is a massive drop-off in scoring numbers after Miles Bridges and Brandon Miller, so if they struggle on a given night, it is a true uphill battle for Charlotte. A prime example of that came the last time these two teams matched up, as Orlando held Miles Bridges to seven points on 3-16 shooting, which resulted in a 101-89 loss for the Hornets.

While the Hornets have made a habit of scoring under 100 points, the Magic have made a habit of holding opposing offenses to under 100 points. Over their last ten games, in which they are 8-2, the Magic have held opponents to an average of 99.1 points per game on 44.6% shooting from the field.

Consistency on the offensive end of the floor is the biggest question mark surrounding the Magic as we head toward the postseason. At the very least, though, they will enter tonight on a three-game win streak, in which they’ve managed a 58.9% effective field goal percentage.

Pick for the Game

Not only can Orlando dominate defensively, but they’ve also been able to control the boards consistently and win the rebounding battle. That is one of the biggest reasons why I’ll be betting the under on Nick Richards’ points+rebounds prop, which is set at 18.5 on most North Carolina mobile betting apps.

Over Richards’ last ten games, he has gone under this number in five of them, including his previous meeting with the Magic, in which he had two points and four rebounds in 27 minutes of play. In that ten-game span, Richards is averaging 9.5 points per game. The problem is that interior defense is a strong suit of the Magic, as they rank 3rd over the past ten games in points in the paint allowed per game (42).

In general, Richards is not a guy who will get a lot of shot attempts off per game. According to NBA.com, the Hornets' big man has an 11.8% usage rate and has made up for just 10.9% of the Hornets' field goal attempts over the past ten games. If Richards has a tough scoring night, I don’t think he’ll be able to make a dent in this prop total, especially since Orlando is also 1st in the league over the past ten games in average rebounds allowed per game (36.4).

Recap

  • Nick Richards Under 18.5 Points+Rebounds (-125) on BetMGM

*odds subject to change

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