Raptors return to The O2 to face Orlando in NBA Global Games duel
Daniel Coyle, American Sports Correspondent | January 13, 2016
Toronto Raptors @ Orlando Magic
The Toronto Raptors return to London this week for the first time since 2011 to take on Orlando Magic in an NBA Global Games matchup on Thursday, and are 16/1 to be Eastern Conference winners with Coral.
Raptors cross the pond for Thursday night’s contest at The O2 Arena riding a three-game straight up winning streak to keep pace with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, 4.5-games ahead.
Toronto topped hapless Philadelphia 76ers in their last outing on Saturday, handing the NBA bottom-feeders a 108-95 loss to easily cover as strong 9-point chalk, and extend their current against the spread winning streak to three games.
The road has been good to Raptors this season. Toronto have amassed a conference-leading 13-9 SU record away from the friendly confines of Air Canada Centre, including five wins in their past seven, and are also among the league leaders with a 13-8-1 record against the spread.
Meanwhile, Magic will hit the floor against Toronto mired in their worst slump of the season, as SU losers in five of their past six, most recently dropping a 105-99 decision to the Washington Wizards on Saturday as 3.5-point home favourites.
The club remains in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, clinging to eighth place with a 20-18 SU record, but will need to quickly reverse their current slide to avoid falling out of postseason contention for a fourth straight year.
Orlando was the darling of the sportsbook early on in the NBA campaign, opening with seven straight ATS wins, and covering in 14 of 16 outings between Thanksgiving and Christmas
But the Magic are a dismal 2-7 ATS since Boxing Day, and have failed to crack the century mark since the calendar turned to 2016, averaging just 87.7 points per game over their past six.
Not surprisingly, the point total has consistently played UNDER in recent weeks, going 7-3 in Orlando’s last 10, including four contests in which the point total was pegged below 200.
That could be a major concern for the Magic, who face a Raptors squad that ranks fourth in team defense, surrendering just 96.7 points per game this season, and a mere 85.7 ppg during their current three-game win streak.
Orlando (100/1 outsiders to win the Eastern Conference) must also overcome a feeble record against Raptors in recent years. Magic claimed a 92-87 victory over Toronto back in November, picking up the ATS win as 6-point home underdogs during their early-season hot streak.
That marked their first win over Toronto since March 2012, a stretch of 11 SU losses, 3-8 ATS. Raptors last visited London for an NBA Global Games matchup in 2011, getting swept by New Jersey in the first two NBA regular season games ever held at The O2, including a thrilling 137-136 Nets victory that took three overtime frames to settle.
While, Magic last travelled overseas for regular season action when they opened the 1996-1997 NBA season with a pair of wins over the Nets, playing before 40,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome in what was dubbed as the first-ever Japanese Jam Session.
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