This time last year, Paolo Banchero was fighting for a national championship with Duke, but now he’s leading the Orlando Magic into LA to face the Clippers. The young Magic have been fun all year long, but fun and promising doesn’t equate to wins in the NBA. They’ve lost three of their last four and are 13th in the Eastern Conference at 28-42.
The Clippers will look to handle their business without Kawhi Leonard in this one, and at 37-33 they need to. Here are the odds for Clippers and Magic in LA.
Magic vs. Clippers odds, spread and total
Magic vs. Clippers prediction and pick
The Magic looked like they had a chance to contend for a play-in spot just a couple of weeks ago, but they’re 3-7 in their last 10 games and are losing to teams like San Antonio. This young group might have just run out of steam down the stretch. It’s a long season for 20 years olds like Banchero and the wear and tear is showing with this group. It’s especially revealing in terms of their defensive play, the over is 6-0 in their last six games.
Speaking of wear and tear, Kawhi Leonard is out today with his knee injury. Likely more maintenance than anything, but that means Paul George is responsible for leading this group. If there’s any value to having a player like Russell Westbrook, and I don’t think there’s very much, it’s for games like this. You’re at home, playing an inferior opponent who is really struggling, and you need to give your veteran leader a night off. Give Westbrook the ball, let him do his triple-double thing and he’ll provide enough energy to get the win. Westbrook will always give effort and that’s what a team like the Clippers needs in games like this because they try to turn it on and off at will.
The Magic are 12-23 on the road this year and they’ve already dropped the first two of this road trip.
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