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Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50). (Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire)
March 17th, 2022
Basketball fans can look forward to watching some of the best college-level talent in the country on Thursday. No, we’re not talking about March Madness; we’re talking about the Detroit Pistons vs. the Orlando Magic.
The NBA’s lone Thursday night game features a pair of floundering franchises that have already been eliminated from postseason play. In one corner we have the 18-51 Pistons, who have the worst point differential in the Eastern Conference and are a woeful 27.5 games behind the Miami Heat. In the other corner we have the Magic, who are 28 games back and have claimed just 11 victories in 2022. It’s the lightweight bout absolutely nobody asked for, and it’s set to go down tonight at 7 p.m. ET at the Amway Center.
We’ve examined this evening’s underwhelming matchup closely (someone had to), and have the three best player prop bets below.
Tonight’s game could be decided by who’s not on the court. Detroit and Orlando have 11 combined players sidelined, including primetime contributors like Jerami Grant, who is expected to be out until March 19 with right knee inflammation, and Cade Cunningham, who is questionable because of a non-COVID 19 illness. That opens up opportunities for the Pistons’ secondary stars, and the player likely to benefit most is Saddiq Bey.
Saddiq Bey is STRONG. #Pistons@SaddiqBey pic.twitter.com/qJyI2EGR1G— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) March 10, 2022
Saddiq Bey is STRONG. #Pistons@SaddiqBey pic.twitter.com/qJyI2EGR1G
The sophomore small forward has seen a dip in his production lately, but he’s just two weeks removed from a phenomenal four-game span in which he averaged 23.8 points per game and led the Pistons in scoring twice. Grant topped the ledger on the other two occasions, and his absence should lead to a notable uptick in possessions and shots for Bey. Ride the Over, as the Villanova alum takes off the training wheels and takes control of Detroit’s offense.
The Magic have had more misses than hits in the draft in recent years, but the front office appears to have found a winner in small forward Franz Wagner. The eighth pick of the 2021 NBA Draft is averaging 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, and has already led Orlando in scoring 18 times this season.
Franz Wagner with the tough acrobatic finish ⚡️pic.twitter.com/HjF7KdJOtz— Magic Nation (@MagicNationCP) March 10, 2022
Franz Wagner with the tough acrobatic finish ⚡️pic.twitter.com/HjF7KdJOtz
More importantly, at least for this prop, Wagner has showed out against Detroit in his freshman campaign. Mo’s little bro is averaging 17.3 points per game in three contests against the Pistons, and erupted for 26 points in just 24 minutes the last time these two clubs clashed on Feb. 28. With Wendell Carter Jr. likely unavailable, Wagner should have plenty of opportunities to stuff the stat sheet tonight.
Cole Anthony may have fallen short of expectations at the 2022 Slam Dunk Contest, but he’s been flying high on the court ever since. The 21-year-old point has scored 19 points in four of his last six games and has shot a blistering 46% from beyond the arc during that span. That’s a particularly appealing trend since Detroit ranks a distance 29th in opponent 3-point field goal percentage.
Cole has nailed two treys or more in four straight outings and is a solid bet to surpass that total again tonight against a broken down and rudderless team just playing out the string.
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