The Orlando Magic have lost five straight games, putting up 92 PPG en route to a 0-5 spread record in that stretch.  Stan Van Gundy’s troops head up the coast for Saturday night’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sports books opened Philadelphia as a four-point favorite, with early betting steam lifting the number a hook to 4.5NBA odds makers first set the total at 180, remaining unchanged after initial wagers were mixed. 

 

Magic buried at home 

Orlando’s latest setback came in Thursday’s 96-80 defeat as a three-point home favorite against the New York Knicks.  The Magic allowed the Knicks to connect at 48.7 percent from the field, including 13-of-25 beyond the arc. 

Elton BrandMagic center Dwight Howard returned to his team’s lineup after missing two games with a back injury, logging eight rebounds and three blocks.  Orlando’s backcourt duo of Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson united for 26 points and nine assists, draining 5-of-15 buckets from three-point land.

The contest’s combined 176 points dipped below the total of 188.5, ending a 5-0 OVER streak from Orlando’s prior five games.  Magic veteran Von Wafer led his squad’s bench scoring with 13 points, knocking down 5-of-8 floor shots in 19 minutes of action. 

76ers upset by Raptors 

Philadelphia logged a second straight loss in Wednesday’s 99-78 defeat as an 8.5 point home favorite against the Toronto Raptors.  The 76ers were outrebounded, 46-29, while allowing Toronto to shoot 50.6 percent from the field. 

76ers mates Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday notched 20 points each, with the duo adding four blocks and three steals, respectively.  Philadelphia’s Spencer Hawes logged 10 points and a team-high nine boards, while Andre Iguodala finished with six points and six assists. 

The lopsided affair’s combined 177 points ducked UNDER the total of 183, bringing the UNDER to 6-5 in the 76ers last 11 contests.  Philadelphia was outscored, 44-22, in the second half, while both foes united to sink 19-of-20 free throws. 

Back the home ‘chalk’ 

Saturday’s tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET), with ESPN providing the national television coverage.  Philadelphia is playing the front end of a back-to-back spot, heading to Boston as part of Sunday’s league slate.  Orlando will be off for one day, returning home for Monday’s duel with the Detroit Pistons. 

I am adding the 76ers minus the points to my NBA picks for the day’s action, looking for Brand and Co. to pick up ground on Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings with a sizable win.  Philadelphia has a 4-1 spread mark in their last five spots that followed defeats, while the Magic are 0-7 ATS in their last seven battles against clubs with winning records. 

Howard may be back for the Magic, but injuries to Orlando’s Ryan Anderson (16.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and Hedo Turkoglu (10.7 PPG, 4.5 APG) should hurt the team’s depth, making it a challenge to break its losing skid on the road.  Anderson notably drained a stellar 7-of-10 buckets beyond the arc in February’s 103-87 triumph for the Magic as 2.5 point home favorites, leaving Van Gundy’s crew unlikely to make up for that type of scoring presence here. 

Philadelphia quietly stands as the league’s stingiest squad, allowing 88.2 PPG, including an even tighter 84.9 PPG at home.  The 76ers have held visitors to 41.7 percent field shooting, with just 30.2 percent of buckets from three-point land connecting. 

Brand has logged 10 blocks over his squad’s last three games, while averaging a respectable 7.2 RPG in his last six contests.  The two-time All-Star also notched a pair of steals in both matchups against the Magic this year. 

Look for Philly to muscle its way into covering the number here, while the Magic continue their sliding disarray.