The deadlock is set to break tonight at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, as the Orlando Magic prepare to host the Indiana Pacers on their home court at 7:30 PM ET for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series together. After trading victories through the first two games which now finds each team with 1 win apiece heading into tonight’s contest, there are a few things that each team will be looking to accomplish in order to become the team with the series advantage at the end of the night.
For the Indiana Pacers, Monday night’s 93-78 victory was a welcome boost for a team that came out flat in Game 1 at home, and should serve as a confidence booster for a team that played great basketball away from home during the regular season (19-14). Coming off a Game 1 loss in which the Pacers were held to just 77 points on a woeful shooting night (34.5 percent from the floor), Indiana regrouped to hold the Dwight Howard-less Magic to just 78 points themselves, limiting the Magic to just 35.5 percent shooting from the floor. With Orlando needing to have their outside shooting game clicking on all cylinders due to the void in the middle left by Howard’s absence, Indiana will once again look to their defense to aid them to victory, along with their superior size, but could be set up for a bit of a sluggish start once again due to the high minutes, and little rest, the team has logged since playing on Monday night. Depth will be a key factor for the Pacers, who have had one of the best benches in the NBA this year, and keeping the tempo of the game slow will be critical to them overcoming a Magic team that will look to score in transition and hit the 3-point shot on home court tonight. Getting another big game out of their big men in the paint (who outscored Orlando 50-28 inside in Game 2) could also be a big piece for the visiting Pacers, which puts added emphasis on once more getting good performances out of David West, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger and sixth-man Tyler Hansbrough.
The Orlando Magic on the other hand will look to get their perimeter game going early, and will try to keep the Pacers’ bigger guys moving up and down the court as much as possible. Knowing that both David West and Danny Granger, the Pacers leading playoff contributors, have logged major minutes through 2 games (each over 40 in Monday’s match-up) could see their focus shift towards running with the ball in the hopes of wearing down the Indiana starters, and forcing them to go to their bench earlier than anticipated. That scenario would bode well for the smaller Magic, who are reliant on Ryan Anderson to generate the missing points left on the table by Dwight Howard’s absence, and would also help out Hedo Turkoglu, who was held in check by Danny Granger’s smothering defense. Further Glen Davis, who fills the center gap despite his smaller stature, has to once more be physical with Indiana’s bigs, all while focusing on keeping David West from dominating in the paint. Averaging 18.5 points and 10 rebounds through two games thus far, West is Pacer #1 to hinder, and that task will be a tough one even for the improving Davis to handle. However, if Orlando does have success inside the paint tonight, via narrowing the rebounding margin and limiting Indiana’s second chance points (of which they had 25 in Game 2), then Orlando sets themselves up for focusing on their outside shooting game, led by Jameer Nelson Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick, all of whom were relatively quiet in Game 2.
Betting Lines for the Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers at Intertops Sportsbook
With the Magic playing undersized, even at home where they’ve been very effective the bookmakers are siding with the Indiana Pacers as the favorites, giving them -155 odds straight up to win. The Magic therefore make an intriguing wager with the underdog status on their home court, getting tempting odds at +135 to win.
Against the spread, the Pacers have just a slight edge at -3 points (-110 odds), while the home side Orlando Magic need to cover +3 points at -110 odds as well. Both teams have beaten the spread once in this series, and have taken turns struggling on offense, making this a tough pick for sports bettors today.
For the over/under on total points, find 183.5 as the line drawn in the sand for tonight’s critical Game 3 match-up. With both games going under the points total thus far, based on one team or the other having a poor shooting night, expectations should be tempered that we’ll see a breakout of the total points in tonight’s game, as defense once more will be a key component in both teams’ game plan.
While the Indiana Pacers will look to dominate inside the paint, and keep the pace of the game to as much of a crawl as possible, expect the Orlando Magic to come out with a strong pace in mind, and try to come out with guns blazing from outside the perimeter. Remember that the Magic are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, and especially at home, they can dominate games by scoring loads of points from the perimeter. That is of course, as long as they aren’t hampered by the type of smothering defense that the Indiana Pacers love to play. Watch out for Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis to be the key players on the court for Orlando, as Anderson has to be a scoring leader, and Davis has to have a big game down low against a bigger Pacers team. For Indiana, the game hedges on the ability for them to dominate inside, and get another big game out of David West and Danny Granger. If they two come out sluggish, and ease up on their defensive play, the Magic behind their raucous home crowd could streak their way to victory, and be tonight’s best underdog pick on the betting lines at Intertops Sportsbook.