Daunting challenge awaits Payton, Orlando

Daunting challenge awaits Payton, Orlando

Kevin Durant’s always been considered a proficient long-range shooter. Now that the small forward resides in Golden State, though, we’re witnessing the development of a full-fledged marksman.

The eight-time All-Star aims to stay hot in this afternoon’s battle against Orlando, with a 12 p.m. ET tip at the Amway Center. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Warriors odds of -2200 to handle their business on the road. Conversely, Frank Vogel’s club represents a +1000 underdog.

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Over the last nine games, Durant has converted 41.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He’s averaging 26.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 2016-17,essentially leapfrogging Stephen Curry as the Dubs’ primary option. Yet there are plenty of balls to go around, as evidenced by the team’s tremendous balance during an 8-1 January.

On the flip side, Orlando continues to search for cohesion in Vogel’s first year on the job. Elfrid Payton, probably the closest thing the Magic have to an offensive catalyst, scored 20 points in Friday’s 112-96 triumph over Milwaukee. Still, it would take a minor miracle for the Southeast Division bottom-feeders not to land a lottery pick in next June’s draft.

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With Steve Kerr’s gang on an absolute tear, we’re experiencing difficulty trying to envision a scenario in which the hosts hang tough for more than a quarter or so. Yet Golden State could opt to yank a lot of the regular personnel early in order to prepare for tomorrow’s duel with Miami. Adjust those scoring projections accordingly.

SUNDAY NBA FREE PICK: WARRIORS/MAGIC UNDER 226 POINTS

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