It won’t quite rival LeBron James’ post-decision return to Cleveland, but it will come pretty close. Dwight Howard plays his first game in Orlando since jilting the Magic last summer and he can expect a chilly reception from fans and former team-mates alike, after a series of off-message comments on his past stint in Florida.
As is so often the case, the now-Los Angeles Lakers centre claims he was merely misunderstood but no amount of back-tracking will erase his words about his former Magic colleagues being players which ‘no-one else wanted’. That should see the hosts having a point to prove when they face their one-time totem.
There’s no doubt though, that Orlando misses Howard more than he misses them. The Magic are 18-46 so far, a far cry from the five successive winning records they attained before his messy exit.
They’ve won only three of their last ten games and although their young big Nikola Vucecic is averaging 12.3 points and 11.4 rebounds, he’s not quite at All Star level yet.
Howard has been finally living up to his billing of late and he notched 21 points and 15 boards when these sides last met in December. The Lakers lost, but that was an entirely different team.
With their chemistry growing, LA have won eight of their last ten to move into the play-off spots and they’re worth a punt at 1.91 on a handicap of -8 in a game that should stay under the points line of 206.5.
Down the coast, the Miami Heat will chase their 19th win in a row tonight when Atlanta come to South Beach. The Hawks are 0-3 so far this season against the East leaders and of late, they’ve suffered a number of blowouts. So have a look at the Heat to stay hot on the handicap of -10, available at 1.91.
Best Bet: Take the LA Lakers -8 over Orlando at 1.91
Follow Mark Woods' NBA betting tips every day