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January 8, 2017

SPS has won 7 of 9 picks in the new year and aims to make it six in a row today!

Take Orlando Magic +2 spread against LA Lakers for 3% of the bankroll.

The Lakers are coming off a big win and that doesn't bode well for them in our opinion tonight. This is a squad that needs constant reminders about the importance of defense. They have some young players that almost 'forget to defend' or are tardy in rotation and closing down opposing shooters. Head coach Luke Walton inherited a defensively-challenged group and while he's done his best to instill some much-needed defensive intensity in them, it'll take a lot longer. This is gonna be another transitional year for this rebuilding historic franchise and he may need the entire season to teach the likes of D'Angelo Russell about better decision-making.

The fact that Los Angeles did a poor job defensively in its last game but got away with it makes this matchup tougher for them. That's because against the injury-depleted Miami Heat, who are in the midst of rebuilding themselves, they hung a season-high 127 points on their way to an easy victory! It was an offensive outburst that has been rare for this inconsistent bunch and is unlikely to continue tonight. Their lack of focus on the other end of the court didn't see them get punished against Miami but is likely to cost them tonight. Orlando is a team that flies under the radar but has the talent to beat good teams on their day. The Lakers, are NOT a good team and are more than beatable for the Floridans. The fact that they have been installed as very small underdogs despite owning a poor record and being the road team in this contest says a lot.

This is a 'false favorite' situation in our opinion. The visitors are not only the better team but the ones coming off a defeat. Orlando hung in there with high-flying Houston Rockets for most of the game before falling short in the closing minutes. It was a valient effort and one that saw them hold the Rockets to just 100 points, 14 points below their season average! They did a reasonable job containing the offensive juggernaut that is James Harden and company and should have an easier task against the Lakers. We believe their willingness to buy into Frank Vogel's defensive philosophies will pay dividends tonight at Staples Center, against a team that is still very much lacking an identity.

Evan Fournier and the Magic were beaten here late in the season last year and haven't forgotten that. It all but eliminated their playoff hopes (which were already slim) and gave the LA crowd a rare victory to cherish. They won't make the mistake of looking past their opponents this time. They want to bounce back from their loss to Houston while the Lakers may still be in 'celebratory mood', having scored a season-high 127 points last time out! Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow and a number of key players were missing for Miami in that game but Orlando is not currently dealing with injury issues and has the offense and the defense to get the better of Los Angeles. Look for Vucevic who played his college ball at USC to provide an offensive spark while the likes of big off-season acquisitions, Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka record blocks and rebounds! This might be a closely contested battle but we expect the Magic to find a way to win it but will take the two extra points as insurance knowing they provide value and could prove precious.

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