Magic Host Bulls Before Beginning Western Swing

By: Adam Markowitz | Friday, January 6, 2012

This weekend might be dominated by the NFL playoffs, so it's easy to forget about other action across the sports betting world, and that includes some huge NBA games that should not be overlooked.

Has Dwight Howard played his last home game in an Orlando Magic uniform? The news broke on Thursday that the man they call “Superman” in the Sunshine State has a new suitor in the Golden State Warriors. There are still a bevy of teams trying to land Howard, and most are in the Western Conference.

The New Jersey Nets seem to be out of the equation at least for now, as the key piece to the puzzle that they plan on trading to the Magic is Brook Lopez, who is out for at least the next month with an ankle injury. That could just leave teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors involved in the trade talks.

Ironically, starting on Sunday with a trip to the Sacramento Kings, the Magic are embarking on a West Coast swing that ends next week with – you guessed it – a trip to Golden State.

This is really going to be the first extended period of tough schedule for the Magic. They have only had one game this season in which they haven’t been favored, a loss on Christmas night to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game against Sacramento on Sunday is coming against a hungry team with a new head coach in Keith Smith, and it could be the start of a very tense next nine days on the road for Orlando.

The Magic aren’t nearly the only championship contender that is going to be spending a heck of a lot of time on the road this weekend.

The Chicago Bulls face this Orlando team at the Amway Center on Friday night, and from there, they have to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. The trip to Philips Arena will be the seventh road game of the year for the Bulls, who are already 3-2 ATS on the season coming into Friday as guests.

Keep an eye on Derrick Rose. He is expected to play on Friday despite an elbow injury, but it could be interesting to see how he reacts to playing the back-to-back in two different cities with the injury.

The Miami Heat are the only team in the NBA that hasn’t lost a game on the road this year. The team is only 2-2 ATS in that stretch though, and Miami was lucky to get out of Atlanta with a 116-109 triumph in three overtimes on Thursday. Now the Heat travel to the lowly New Jersey Nets on Saturday night with a good chance to improve to 5-0 on the season on the road.

Elsewhere on the Saturday slate, the New York Knicks look to right the ship to the start of their season when they visit the Detroit Pistons. The Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs collide in the Lone Star State for clash of 5-2 teams. The Dallas Mavericks, who have suddenly gotten back within two games of the .500 mark, take on the new-look New Orleans Hornets.

Sunday’s featured game pits the Spurs against the Thunder. Many expect this to be a matchup of two of legitimate contenders for the NBA championship. San Antonio is 0-2 SU and ATS on the road this year, and this will be as tough of a task as they have to face this year against Oklahoma City in the Sooner State.

The Los Angeles Lakers will be back at home and hoping to get back above .500 on Sunday when they take on another team that enters Friday night right at the .500 mark, the Memphis Grizzlies.

Monday night features a relatively quiet schedule with just six games on tap. The highlight of the night will pit the Hornets against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Arena. Elsewhere, the Hawks will visit the struggling Nets, and the Pacers will hope to take care of the Philadelphia 76ers in the City of Brotherly Love.

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