Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic

Amway Center | Orlando, FL

October 17, 2018 | 07:00 PM EST

For the third consecutive year, the NBA’s two Florida teams will face off in the season opener at the Amway Center in Orlando. The Magic (0-0) will welcome the visiting Miami Heat (0-0) on Wednesday night, with Orlando hoping to improve on a dismal 25-57 ledger a season ago. Miami finished the 2017-18 campaign as the sixth seed in a relatively weak Eastern Conference, falling to the Sixers in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

Projected Starting Lineups
Miami HeatOrlando Magic
Goran DragicPGDJ Augustin
Rodney McGruderSGEvan Fournier
Josh RichardsonSFJonathan Isaac
Kelly OlynykPFAaron Gordon
Hassan WhitesideCNikola Vucevic

Miami enters the new season slightly shorthanded, with regular starting shooting guard Dion Waiters continues to miss time after ankle surgery. Forwards Justise Winslow and James Johnson will both also likely miss Wednesday’s opener, which could deal a major blow to a typically stout defensive frontcourt. That might come into play, as Orlando looks to be full strength, headlined by dynamic big man Nikola Vucevic. With Miami lacking depth at the post positions for tonight’s contest, it could be an early opportunity for Vucevic to establish his scoring and pace the Magic offense.

The Magic struggled through a disappointing 2017-18, and with mostly the same cast of characters filling the roster this year (it’s hard to know at this point what impact first-round pick Mo Bamba will have), it’s hard to imagine this Orlando team making any notable moves in the playoff landscape of the Eastern Conference. That said, Orlando played about as well at home a year ago (17-24) as Miami did on the road (18-23), and with the Heat notably shorthanded to kick off the year, I’m backing the Magic plus the points tonight at Amway Center.

Our Free NBA Pick: Orlando Magic +2.5 (-110)

Connor Woods

A professional sports capper, Connor graduated from the University of Alabama and supports the Crimson Tide in addition to four major teams in Chicago: the Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls. One of his passions is visiting MLB stadiums - he's currently seen a game in 17 of the 30 active parks.

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