Toronto Raptors v Orlando Magic – O2 Arena at 20:10 live on BT Sport 1
The NBA returns to London with all eyes on the O2 Arena as the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic square off.
Despite the two relatively even squad qualities that these both bring into the game, they are at very different ends of the spectrum in terms of form and morale. Toronto continue to do a decent job knocking off teams they should be beating and have a 6-3 record since Christmas. Their only defeats coming away to the Cavs (one of the best in the NBA), and a home/away skid to the Bulls.
DeMarre Carroll is now a no go for the time being after surgery to his knee. Kyle Lowery and DeMar Derozean have continued to be productive in his absence however the standard of opposition for the last 3 games has been fairly poor and the Magic is likely to provide a little more resistance tonight.
The Orlando Magic are the team who are forfeitting a home game for tonight’s clash and have the natural disadvantage of having to play an extra game away form their home court.
Saying that, considering how poor they have been since the calendar changed to 2016, the change of scenery might do them some good. Since Jan 1st, the Magic are now 1-5 overall with their only win come against the lowly Brooklyn Nets.
Elfred Payton may be rushed back into the starting 5 despite his recovery from an ankle injury. He was quote as saying that the explosiveness has almost returned and should be fine to play. However as with most professional athletes, it always takes a little time to get back into the groove so don’t be surprised to see some ring-rustiness on Thursday night.
One issue for the Raptors is they haven’t been home since the 3rd of January and a trip across the Atlantic to complete a road stretch is far from ideal. Especially considering during that run they played 5 games in 7 days. The schedule has not been kind.
Despite this, a spread of -3.5 points just feels a little on the shy side for Toronto. Before delving into detail, I had a gut feeling of around about a 7 or 8 point margin for the for Raptors, willing to knock off a couple of their recent busy schedule, this still makes the Raptors the bet.
Due to the variables at play, stakes should be kept relatively conservative, but I still expect the Raptors to have too much for the Magic, and should be backed to cover the spread.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Toronto Raptors -3.5 at 2.00
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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