Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#577 Houston Rockets vs.
#578 Orlando Magic
Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 7:05pm EDT
Amway Center, Orlando
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of teams playing out the string on a disappointing campaign take the floor in an interconference matchup in the Sunshine State. The Houston Rockets are on the road as they make the trip to face the Orlando Magic Sunday night. Houston comes in off a 128-99 home loss to Denver in their previous contest on Friday night. Orlando was dropped 113-102 on the road by Toronto in a game played in Tampa Friday night. In the all-time regular-season series between the teams, the Rockets own a 35-29 advantage, including a 132-90 blowout victory at home in the first meeting this season on January 8.

Houston Rockets Looking to Get Back in Win Column

Houston suffered their fifth straight loss and their 10th defeat in the last 11 games as they were pasted at home by Denver Friday night in their last game. The Rockets are in the basement of the Southwest Division, 16.5 games behind the Mavericks for the top spot. In the Western Conference playoff picture, the team is 15th, 13 games behind the Spurs for the final spot in the expanded playoff field. On Friday night, the Rockets were overwhelmed by the Nuggets as they gave up an early 10-0 run to trail 18-7 and never made a serious run after that. Houston trailed by seven after one quarter and by 20 at the half. The Rockets failed to get closer than 14 in the second half as they took the loss. Houston shot 44.2% from the field, including 11 of 35 from three-point range, and lost the rebounding battle 54-35. Kelly Olynyk led the Rockets with 23 points and six rebounds in the win.

The Rockets enter this contest 24th in the league with 108.1 points per game on the season. Houston is 26th in rebounding by collecting 42.4 boards a night while they are 25th in assists with 23.1 dimes per contest. The Rockets are 27th in scoring defense as they give up an average of 115 points per game on the year. Christian Wood leads the team with 21 points plus 9.4 rebounds per game this season. John Wall (20.6 points, 6.8 assists), Kelly Olynyk (11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Eric Gordon (17.8 points) are the other players averaging in double figures. Ben McLemore, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, D.J. Augustin, Dante Exum, David Nwaba, Jae’Sean Tate (11 points, 5.4 rebounds), Danuel House Jr., Kevin Porter Jr. (15 points, 6.4 assists) and Justin Patton are key pieces of the rotation as well for coach Stephen Silas. Houston is 28th in field goal percentage as they shoot 44.2% as a team from the floor. The Rockets are 10th in threes per game as they knock down 13.4 triples a night and stand 30th in three-point shooting by hitting 33.6% from beyond the arc. Exum remains in a walking boot after straining a calf muscle January 5. Gordon is out four to six weeks with a groin strain. Nwaba (wrist) is out indefinitely while House Jr. (ankle) isn’t expected to return until after the team’s game April 19 against the Heat. Augustin (ankle) is in a walking boot and underwent a MRI on Thursday so don’t expect him to suit up anytime soon.

Orlando Magic Hoping to Turn Things Around

Orlando couldn’t maintain the momentum of a victory over Chicago and suffered their seventh loss in the last eight games Friday night by falling to the Raptors. The Magic entered Saturday in the basement of the Southeast Division, 12 games behind the Hawks for the top spot. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the team is 14th, 4.5 games behind the Raptors for the final spot in the play-in tournament. On Friday night, Orlando led by as many as eight early in the game, held a four-point edge at the half and stood tied midway through the third quarter. Things fell apart from there as the Magic gave up a 15-0 run to trail 76-61 with 4:19 to play in the third and never drew closer than 11 the rest of the way. Orlando shot 45.5% from the field, including eight of 23 from beyond the arc, and lost the battle of the boards 42-35. Wendell Carter Jr. paced the Magic with 20 points and nine rebounds in the loss.

The Magic is 29th in the league in scoring offense with 104.3 points per game so far this season. Orlando is 7th in the league in rebounding with 45.6 boards per contest and 27th with 22.4 assists per game this season. The Magic is 18th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 112 points per contest. After a series of trades, Terrence Ross is the team’s leading scorer still with the team as he puts up 15.6 points a night. Wendell Carter Jr. (11.8 points, eight rebounds), Markelle Fultz (12.9 points, 5.4 assists), Cole Anthony (11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists), R.J. Hampton (9.4 points, 4.2 boards) and Dwayne Bacon (10.2 points) are looked at for scoring options this season. Michael Carter-Williams, Otto Porter Jr., Gary Harris, James Ennis III, Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke are other rotation pieces for the Magic and coach Steve Clifford. Orlando is 30th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 43.1% from the floor as a team. The Magic are 22nd in the league in threes per game as they knock down 11.2 triples per contest while the team is 25th in three-point shooting by converting 34.8% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Fultz is done for the year with a torn ACL suffered January 6. Bamba (hip), Porter Jr. (foot) and Carter-Williams (ankle) were all out Friday and they could miss this contest as well.

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We’re looking at a pair of teams looking to the future as things have been brutal this season for them. Houston has dropped five straight and 10 of 11 as they were clobbered at home by the Nuggets. Meanwhile, Orlando has lost seven of their previous eight entering this contest as they have completely cratered down the Eastern Conference standings over the last couple of months. We saw Houston bomb Orlando in the first meeting this season, which came in Houston but both teams had much different personnel than we see now. The Rockets are just 7-21 on the road this season and with no momentum to speak of, lean slightly toward the Magic at home here.

Prediction: Orlando Magic +3

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Houston is fifth in the league in tempo as they average 101.1 possessions a night on the season. Unfortunately for the team, it hasn’t helped them put up a ton of production on that end of the floor as they are second-worst in the league in field goal percentage. As it stands, the Rockets are 24th in the league in field goal percentage defense (47.2%) on the year. That might not matter much against an Orlando team that is dead last in the league in field goal percentage on the season. The Magic now has a bunch of lesser pieces, which won’t do much for their offensive production. Orlando is just 19th in the league in tempo as they try to grind things out, averaging 98.3 possessions a night. We saw 222 points in the first meeting but that was an eternity ago. With what these teams have to offer at this point, this one ends up under the mark.

Prediction: Under 221.5
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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