Game: New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Odds: Knicks -3.5, Magic +3.5
The New York Knicks’ quest for a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference and a guaranteed playoff spot hasn’t been derailed by consecutive defeats. The Knicks will attempt to end their losing streak Thursday night when they travel to Orlando to finish a back-to-back set in Florida. The losses have increased the Knicks’ urgency.
The Miami Heat defeated the Knicks 127-120 on Wednesday night as they began their southern swing. When the Magic defeated the host Washington Wizards 122-112 on Tuesday night, they kept alive their tenuous chances of making it to the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
The Knicks (42-32) are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a two-game lead over the Heat (40-34) and Brooklyn Nets (39-33) who are virtually tied for sixth place. The play-in tournament consists of the teams who placed seventh through tenth. Orlando is currently 13th. The Magic is 4.5 games behind 10th-place Chicago.
Similar to how they did following Monday’s 140-134 loss to the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, the Knicks were left to bemoan a poor defensive effort on Wednesday night. Against Minnesota, the Timberwolves shot 61.4 percent (51-of-83) overall and 58.3 percent (14-of-24) from beyond the arc. The Heat shot 57 percent (45-of-79) from the field and 57.1 percent (16-of-28) on 3-point attempts.
On Monday, the Knicks overcame a 16-point third-quarter deficit to take a few leads in the fourth. On Wednesday, they overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit and held the lead twice. But with 7:05 remaining, Max Strus’ three-pointer gave the Heat the lead for good at 101-100 and started a stretch where Miami made all five of its three-point attempts to seal the victory.
With their victory over the 12th-place Wizards on Tuesday, the Magic (30-43) tightened the competition for the final play-in spot. Orlando, Washington, and Indiana are still in the race and have not been mathematically eliminated just yet.
After going 2-5 from February 25 through March 9, Orlando is 3-3 SU in its last six games. The Magic is 5-1 ATS in those six games. Despite their current two-game losing streak, the Knicks are 12-5 SU and ATS in their last 17 games. They are 5-2 SU in their last seven games against the Magic and they have covered in four of the last six. The Knicks have also covered in six of their last nine games on the road.
The total has gone Over in each of Orlando’s last five home games. The Knicks’ totals have gone Over in each of the last two games and three of the last four. In this series, however, the Under is trending. The Under has cashed in four of the last five Knicks-Magic games overall. The Under is also 4-1 in the last five Knicks-Magic games in Orlando. Over their last 10 meetings, these two teams have averaged a combined 202.2 points per game.
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