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NBA-Saturday picks-Magic to fight for the last PO spot

Game of the Night: Magic at Pacers – 7:05 PM EST

Five teams have clinched playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with less than 10 games to go. One of those squads headed to the postseason in the East is Indiana (45-31 SU, 38-38 ATS), who is seeking home-court advantage in the first round. The Pacers will likely hook up with the Celtics in the opening round, but Indiana suffered its 10th consecutive road defeat in Friday’s buzzer-beating loss at Boston. However, Indiana cashed as seven-point underdogs for its second away cover since late February.

The Magic (37-39 SU, 40-35-1 ATS) are involved in the most competitive division race down the stretch, as Orlando is fighting it out with Miami and Charlotte for likely the eighth playoff spot in the East. The Southeast will probably showcase only one team in the postseason, unless Detroit or Brooklyn fall apart in the final two weeks. Orlando put together a six-game winning streak during the back end of March, but five of those victories came against teams owning losing records.

The hot stretch came to an abrupt halt in Thursday’s 115-98 setback at Detroit as 3 ½-point underdogs. Orlando’s defense allowed 53% shooting from the floor, while falling to 1-5 in the last six road contests. The key number recently for the Magic is 100, as Orlando has won nine of its past 10 games when busting the century mark, but has lost 12 straight times when scoring 99 points or less.

The Pacers return home on Saturday looking to improve on a 9-4 SU/ATS record with no rest this season, which includes a 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS mark at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana won the first matchup with Orlando, 112-90 as 3 ½-point road underdogs in early December, but the Magic has captured the last two meetings. In the most recent matchup in Indianapolis in early March, Orlando slipped past Indiana, 117-112 as three-point ‘dogs, led by Nikola Vucevic’s 27 points.

Celtics at Nets – 6:05 PM EST

Following Friday’s walk-off win over the Pacers, the Celtics (45-31 SU, 36-39-1 ATS) pulled into a tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference with Indiana. Kyrie Irving’s layup broke a 112-112 tie to give Boston the 114-112 victory, but the Celtics dropped to 0-7 ATS in the last seven games at TD Garden.

Now the Celtics make the short trip to Brooklyn (38-38 SU, 41-35 ATS), who returns home following a 2-5 road swing. Brooklyn’s four-game ATS hot streak came to an end in Thursday’s 123-110 setback at Philadelphia as seven-point underdogs, while guard D’Angelo Russellwas limited to 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the floor. The Nets aren’t a lock to make the playoffs just yet, as Brooklyn leads Miami by one-half game for the seventh spot, while Orlando and Charlotte are within two games of the seventh position.

The home team has captured the first three matchups this season, including a 112-104 victory by the Celtics at TD Garden on January 28. All three meetings have finished UNDER the total, as the Nets’ lone win over the Celtics this season came on January 14 at Barclays Center, 109-102, but Irving sat out for Boston with a bruised quad.

Kings at Rockets – 6:05 PM EST

The solid start to the season for Sacramento (37-38 SU, 43-31-1 ATS) is now a distant memory as the Kings are on the verge of getting eliminated from the playoffs. The Kings put together a terrific effort this season, as they will likely finish ahead of the Wolves, Lakers, and Pelicans in the West, but Sacramento is riding a 7-12 cold stretch, capped off by a 121-118 setback at New Orleans on Thursday.

Sacramento plays the fourth leg of its five-game road trip with a visit to Houston to face the Southwest division-leading Rockets (48-28 SU, 35-38-3 ATS). Houston is fighting it out with Portland for the third seed as catching Golden State and Denver will be tough with six games remaining. The Rockets continued their ownership of the Nuggets by beating them for the third time this season in Thursday’s 112-85 blowout as six-point home favorites. James Hardenpaced the Rockets with 38 points, while Houston improved to 9-1 in their past 10 games at Toyota Center.

Houston has won eight of the last nine meetings with Sacramento since the start of the 2016-17 season, including a pair of blowout victories this season. The Rockets have defeated the Kings by 20 and 26 points, while jumping out to a 76-45 halftime lead at Golden 1 Center on February 6. Houston is riding an 8-1 UNDER run the last nine games, but Sacramento has hit the OVER in four of the past five road contests.

Blazers at Pistons – 7:05 PM EST

For the second time in a week, these two teams are hooking up as Portland (48-27 SU, 42-43-1 ATS) edged Detroit (38-37 SU, 39-33-3 ATS) at the Moda Center last Saturday, 117-112. The Blazers rallied in the fourth quarter behind Damian Lillard’s 28 points, which nearly cancelled out Blake Griffin’s team-leading 27 points for Detroit. The Pistons owned a five-game winning streak over the Blazers from 2015-18, but Portland has taken the last two meetings, while seeking its first victory at Detroit since 2014.

The Blazers head to Little Caesars Arena with no rest after blowing out the Hawks on Friday, 118-98. Portland has struggled on the second end of a back-to-back set this season by compiling a 4-6 SU/ATS record, while going UNDER the total seven times. The Blazers have won nine of 10 since losing at home in overtime to the Thunder on March 7, while owning a half-game edge over the Rockets for the third seed in the Western Conference.

The Pistons snapped a three-game skid in Thursday’s 115-98 rout of the Magic to pick up their 10th straight home victory. What’s even more impressive is Detroit has covered in all 10 of those wins at Little Caesars Arena with the last home defeat coming to the Clippers on February 2 in which the Pistons squandered a 25-point lead.


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