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Orlando Magic vs Chicago Bulls Prediction

Fri, Mar 4, 8:54am by Kevin Pitstock

The Orlando Magic hosts a key competitor in the battle for the NBA playoffs when the Chicago Bulls visit the Amway Center on Friday night. This is the third meeting between the teams with each owning a win. Orlando destroyed the Bulls in Florida by 29 points but Chicago rebounded to confound the Magic 99-90 in January. Orlando (39-22) trails Chicago by two and a half games for third place in the Eastern Conference. Friday night’s game tips off at 7 pm (Friday 1pm AEST) with the Magic favored 4.5 points.

Chicago point guard Derrick Rose scored a career high 42 points recently and heard MVP chants from his hometown fans. Safe to say he won’t get that kind of greeting in Orlando but he will command that level of respect from the Magic players. He averages 24.6 points and 8.1 assists per game and is a superb floor general. His main weapons are center Joakim Noah who is back after a hand injury. Noah adds points and rules the glass ripping down 11.9 per game. Carlos Boozer is the power forward and adds 19 points a contest plus 10 rebounds while small forward Luol Deng is the Bulls other threat scoring 17.4 per game. Chicago’s big three are productive but inconsistent and Rose has been the glue holding the team together all season.

The Magic are beginning to connect after the mid-season trade that shook up the starting line-up. Center Dwight Howard pours in 22.1 points per game while accounting for 13.1 rebounds. He adds 1.2 steals and 2.2 blocks a game. A factor never on the stat sheet is number of shots altered but it is a safe bet that Howard’s long arms and commanding defensive presence is a key reason the Magic are among the top five teams in the NBA on scoring defense at 94 points per game. Offensively, point guard Jameer Nelson runs the show and adds 12.6 points and 6.2 assists to the stat sheet nightly. His job is to get the ball to Howard as well as shooting guard Jason Richardson who scores nearly 14 points and to Hedo Turkoglu who adds 10.5 points a game. High scoring guard Gilbert Arenas who came over from Washington has been little used at 21 minutes a game and unproductive scoring on eight points each night.

The Magic will be playing the second game of a back-to-back which is always tough in the NBA: even worse when the games are Miami and then Chicago. Look for Chicago to benefit from the schedule-makers mean streak on Orlando and steal a win by four; 96-92

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