Dwight Howard and the Magic split four against the Heat in 2009-10.
The defending Southeast Division champion Orlando Magic will participate in the second part of a back-to-back situation Friday night when they make the short trip to Miami to meet the Heat. Orlando played its season opener Thursday at home against Washington.
Pete Korner, who establishes the betting line for the majority of Nevada sports books as owner of the Sports Club, made Miami a six-point home favorite in his overnight numbers. The ‘total’ opened at 189 points.
The Magic finished on top of the Southeast Division last season thanks to a 59-23 straight-up record, but lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. Orlando was also a fine 46-34-2 against the spread, including 22-18-1 ATS on the road.
The ‘under’ was 47-34-1 in Orlando’s 82 regular season games last year, which included the ‘under’ cashing in 26 of 41 road dates.
Dwight Howard is not only Orlando’s center, but also the centerpiece of the offense and defense. The big man led the team with an 18.3 PPG average, and also hauled down a team-leading 13.2 rebounds per game.
Howard’s huge inside presence, which forced the opposition to double and triple-team him, had a lot to do with Orlando shooting many uncontested three-point shots. As a result, the Magic had a league-record 841 trifectas last season. They finished third in the league by shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The three-point shot also helped the Magic average 102.8 PPG last season, which ranked sixth in the league. They also were fifth in rebounding at 43.2 boards per contest.
Howard clogged the middle well enough during the 2009-10 campaign to help the Magic rank fourth in defense with a 95.3 PPG average. Orlando held its opponents to a league-low 43.8 percent shooting from the field.
Though Stan Van Gundy’s crew is 12-4-1 in its last 17 series meetings against Miami, the two clubs split four matchups last season. Miami recorded a 99-98 win in the first meeting at Orlando, and also notched a 104-86 home win in the second encounter.
Orlando then captured the last two meetings, a 96-80 victory as an 11 ½-point home favorite and a 108-102 overtime triumph as a two-point road favorite. The ‘over’ is 5-2 in the last seven series gatherings.
Miami has split back-to-back road games to begin its much anticipated 2010-11 campaign. The Heat suffered an 88-80 loss Tuesday at Boston as one-point road favorites before recording a 97-87 victory the next night at Philadelphia as eight-point road favorites. Both games dipped ‘under’ the closing NBA odds number.
Dwyane Wade, who began the season with a gimpy hamstring, rebounded from a rusty opener against Boston with a game-high 30 points against the 76ers. LeBron James, after scoring 31 in the opener, settled for 16 markers in a co-pilot's role against the 76ers.
Though Chris Bosh had just 15 points, the Heat outscored Philly by 27 with him on the floor.
The attention paid to “The Big 3” will invite one of Miami’s other players to excel with open looks on many nights. James Jones relished that role in Wednesday’s win by coming off the bench to score 20 points, making 6-of-9 from three-point land.
It’s a rare occurrence in the NBA when the road team attempts more free throws than the home squad, but that’s exactly what happened in Wednesday’s win. The visiting Heat were 27-for-31 from the charity stripe, while the 76ers were just 8-of-11.
Philly out-rebounded Miami, 48-46, and had 24 assists compared to Miami’s 15 helpers. Both clubs committed 16 turnovers.
Miami, without James and Bosh last season, averaged just 96.5 PPG (ranked 25th) and shot just 45.8 percent from the field (ranked 17th). The Heat ranked 19th from beyond the arc (34.6 percent) and 19th in free throw shooting (75.2 percent).
However, the Heat sizzled on the defensive end. They ranked second in points against (94.2 PPG) and opponents’ field goal percentage (43.9 percent).
Miami goes back on the road for a Halloween match at New Jersey, while Orlando is off until next Tuesday when they travel to New York for a tussle against the Knicks.