The Orlando Magic look to win their third straight game and for the sixth time in seven games when they take on their nemesis, the Detroit Pistons on Sunday evening. As Magic fans know, the Pistons have had their way with the Magic in the past and that looked like it was going to continue this season when the Pistons beat Orlando 85-80 back on November 3rd, but Orlando bounced back just three days when they defeated the Pistons 110-103.
Orlando improved to 31-16 with a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night and regained the lead in the Southeast Division. If the Magic defeat the Pistons, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy will be coaching the Eastern Conference All-Stars. The once-mighty Pistons have fallen on hard times. They are just 15-30, 11-13 at home and are coming off a 92-65 loss to the the Miami Heat on Friday night. Orlando is 13-12 on the road. The Pistons have lost four straight games.
Tip-off from the Palace of Auburn Hills is set for 6:00 pm EST and you can watch the game on FSN. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.
The Line: Orlando -5
The Pistons have still given the Magic a difficult time this season. In their first meeting, the Pistons backcourt combined to score 43 points and the Magic shot just 36.7% as the Pistons won 85-80. In the second meeting, the Magic got out a huge lead and held off a late Pistons rally for a 110-103 win. Orlando had six players in double figures led by Dwight Howard’s 22 points. Charlie Villanueva led the late rally with 28 points.
The Pistons have been one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA this season. They score only 91.6 points per game and rank 26th in offensive efficiency. Detroit’s offense does present the Magic with some matchup problems because they haven’t an excellent trio of guards. Detroit’s three leading scorers are Richard Hamilton (18.6 points per game), Rodney Stuckey (18.0 points per game) and Ben Gordon (16.9 points per game).
The Pistons have never been a high-powered offense, but they always had a suffocating defense to make up for it. That is not the case this year. The Pistons give up 97.0 points per game and are just 23rd in defensive efficiency.
Detroit should have no answer for Dwight Howard, who is playing his best basketball of the season right now.
Those numbers make it look like the Magic should have an easy time defeating the Pistons, but they could be in for a fight. The Magic have played two of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams in the last three days and have to play a 6:00 game. The Pistons should be fairly well-rested and haven’t played a road game since January 18th. This will be their final game in a five-game home stand (they are 0-4 so far).