NBA betting preview: Southeast division

NBA betting preview: Southeast division

NBA betting preview: Southeast division
By VIC TAFUR

Orlando Magic

Odds: 50.5 over/under wins, 15-1 to win title

In: Mickael Pietrus, Anthony Johnson, Courtney Lee

Out: Carlos Arroyo, Keyon Dooling, Pat Garrity, Maurice Evans

Outlook: Orlando thinks it's pretty close to the promised land. Last year, the Magic won 52 games and the division as Dwight Howard dominated inside and NBA Most Improved Player Hedo Turkoglu ran the offense from the small forward position. Rashard Lewis made 40 percent of his 3-pointers and Orlando will probably lead the league in 3-pointers attempted again this year. Lewis, Turoglu, Jameer Nelson and Pietrus will all let it fly. Orlando is solid defensively and but does not do well on the offensive glass as usually everyone but Howard is behind the 3-point line. The bench is not very good with the exception of Keith Bogans.

Prediction: Even if Pietrus is the answer at shooting guard (Warriors coach Don Nelson just chuckled), the bench will keep Orlando in the 40s in the win column. Under.


Washington Wizards

Odds: 38.5, 40-1

In: Juan Dixon, JaVale McGee

Out: Roger Mason

Outlook: Gilbert Arenas, the difference between the team being a No. 3 seed in the East and a No. 8, is out again — this time until mid-December — due to a third surgery on his left knee. The Wizards held up OK without Arenas last year, as Caron Butler took over as point forward in a slower offense, and Antawn Jamison, DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood and Mason provided the scoring. Now that Arenas is out again, Mason will be missed. Antonio Daniels is hanging on by a string, and the thought of him getting major minutes at point guard is disheartening. Two nice turns for the Wizards would be if swingman Aundray Blatche could stay out of foul trouble and Nick Young continues to improve and add scoring.

Prediction: It all comes down to Arenas. If he comes back in December and plays anywhere close to like he used to, 38.5 is no problem. If he doesn’t, no shot. So … pass.


Miami Heat

Odds: 33.5, 50-1

In: Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, James Jones, Jamaal Magloire

Out: Jason Williams, Ricky Davis

Outlook: Fifteen games. A team with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade won 15 games last season. O’Neal was bad enough the Heat had to trade him to Phoenix for Shawn Marion and Wade was never right after knee and shoulder surgery, pulling the plug at midseason. This year, they get a healthy Wade back (did you see the Olympics?) and the reward for taking a dive the second half of last season: No. 2 pick Beasley. Wade, Beasley and Shawn Marion is a pretty mean threesome and power forward Udonis Haslem is a tough player who knows his place. Marcus Banks is the point guard and he’s fast. That’s it. Just fast. Beasley can score inside, but defend? And Haslem is 6-foot-8. Those two, along with Mark Blount and Magloire, is what the Heat are going to be putting in front of opposing teams’ baskets. Dwight Howard might score 70 against Miami.

Prediction: Just like you bet LeBron to win the title, you bet on Wade to go 34-48 or better. Take the over.


Atlanta Hawks

Odds: 39.5, 50-1

In: Flip Murray, Randolph Morris, Maurice Evans

Out: Josh Childress, Salim Stoudamire

Outlook: Atlanta made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and gave the Celtics a small scare in the first round. We know it went to seven games but it was only a ‘small’ scare because the Hawks lost the games in Boston by 23, 19, 25 and 34 points. This offseason Atlanta gave dunkmaster Josh Smith $58 million but was dealt a big blow when sixth man Josh Childress bolted to play in Europe. While the starting five of Smith, Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Marvin Williams is top notch, the bench is pretty much abysmal. It wasn’t even good last year with Childress, who was one of the best sixth men in the NBA. Murray, Evans, Acie Law and Zaza Pachulia factor in to any bet you make on the Hawks this season, so be certain about what you are doing.

Prediction: Last year’s 37 regular-season and three first-round wins are going to be the highlight for a generation of Hawks fans. Take the under 39.5 and take it now.


Charlotte Bobcats

Odds: 34.5, 60-1

In: D.J. Augustin, Shannon Brown

Out: None

Outlook: New coach Larry Brown has his work cut out from him, as the Bobcats don’t shoot free throws, defend or rebound well. Shooting guard Jason Richardson made 243 3-pointers last season and is one of the cornerstones along with slasher Gerald Wallace. Matt Carroll is money off the bench and the return of Adam Morrison from injury would give Charlotte another shooter. The Bobcats are also counting on the return of soft-shooting soft-body Scott May — though that could be wishful thinking as he has only played in 58 games in three seasons. You can do a lot worse than big men Emeka Okafor and Nazr Muhammed, and Raymond Felton is not a bad point guard. He is not a good one either, but he will get some help from Augustin.

Prediction: Brown should have fun coaching some talented young players, and they should improve (Remember, they were coached by Sam Vincent last season). Anything from Morrison or May would make over 34.5 a lock.

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