After finishing the regular season with a disappointing 41-41 record, the Toronto Raptors will have a chance to extend their season despite finishing in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors will host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena in the Eastern Conference No. 9 vs. No. 10 play-in game. If they’re victorious, they’ll move on to play the Heat in Miami on Friday. If the Raptors fall to the Bulls, their season is over.
Toronto needs to rattle off two straight wins in order to qualify for the postseason and earn the right to play the Milwaukee Bucks, who recorded the best record in the NBA (58-24) this season, in a best-of-seven series.
The Raptors enter play on Wednesday as five-point favourites over DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls and the total is set at 214.5 points at bet365.
Bulls vs. Raptors odds
|Raptors Moneyline Odds||-210|
|Celtics Moneyline Odds||+175|
|Over/Under||214.5 points (over -110, under +110)|
|Spread||Raptors -5 (-110)|
|Time/Date||Wednesday, April. 12, 7 p.m. ET|
Stream: NBA League Pass
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This will be the fourth time that the two teams have met this season. Toronto is 2-1 in the season series (and 2-1 against the spread), winning both of its games at home. These two teams played under the total in each of the three previous meetings.
Nov. 6 in Toronto – Raptors 113, Bulls 104. Raptors covered as four-point favourites and the teams played under the 220-point total.
Nov. 7 in Chicago – Bulls 111, Raptors 97. Bulls covered as two-point favourites and the teams played under the 221.5-point total.
Feb. 28 in Toronto – Raptors 104, Bulls 98. Raptors covered as 3.5-point favourites and the teams played under the 219-point total.
About the Raptors (41-41, 42-39-1 ATS, 46-36 o/u)
The dominant storyline whenever these two teams play is the return of DeRozan, who is still beloved in Toronto after playing nine seasons for the franchise before being famously traded for Kawhi Leonard in a move that ultimately led to the Raptors’ first NBA championship.
The Raptors have done an excellent job of containing DeRozan in three games this season, holding him to an average of 14 points, which is 10 points less than his season average. Toronto has limited DeRozan to an average of 8.7 shots per contest, and he only got to the free throw line an average of 5.7 times in those games.
OG Anunoby has been primarily tasked with shutting down DeRozan this season. Anunoby guarded DeRozan on 118.3 possessions this season and held him to just 14 points and five field goal attempts while forcing six turnovers, according to NBA.com matchup data. The Raptors forward is in the midst of a breakout defensive season that could see him earn NBA All Defensive Team honours. Anunoby led the league in steals per game (1.9) this season and he’s developed a reputation as an elite defender that regularly matches up with the opposition’s top scorers.
Player to watch: Fred VanVleet
Toronto’s point guard averaged 28.5 points while shooting 46% from the floor, and an even better 48% from beyond the arc, in the first two games against the Bulls this season before he put up a dud in the most recent meeting. VanVleet was held to three points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field on Feb. 28 in Toronto, but the Raptors still pulled out a victory. He’ll likely be primarily guarded by Patrick Beverley, who is one of the most pesky defenders in the league, on Wednesday night. VanVleet will need to find a way to score and set up his teammates despite this unfavourable guard matchup, if Toronto is to walk away with a victory.
About the Bulls (40-42, 40-39-3 ATS, 36-44-2 o/u)
The Bulls’ aspirations of a deep playoff run took a huge blow when point guard Lonzo Ball underwent season-ending knee surgery last month, but the team was fortunate to sign a veteran guard like Beverley after he was bought out by the Orlando Magic to eat some minutes at the position.
Beverley, a lockdown defender, has helped the Bulls emerge as the NBA’s best defensive team since the All-Star break. The Bulls also enter this contest with the best road record in the league since March 1, posting an 8-2 mark. They were a miserable 10-21 on the road prior to March 1.
Centre Nikola Vucevic ranks third in the league in double-doubles (51) and eighth in rebounds (11 per game). He would’ve been an absolute nightmare matchup for Toronto in this game had it not dealt for a true centre like Jakob Poeltl prior to the trade deadline. The battle of the bigs will be a key matchup to watch in this one.
Player to watch: Zach LaVine
LaVine is one of the most dangerous scorers in the league, when healthy. And since the All-Star break, he’s averaging 27 points while shooting an impressive 53% from the field and 39% from three-point range. The oft-injured guard played in 77 games for the Bulls this year, which is the most he’s played in a single season since 2015-16. In his nine professional seasons, LaVine has only played in four playoff games, and he hobbled through a knee injury in those contests. It’ll be interesting to see what a healthy LaVine can finally do when the stakes are the highest.
VanVleet (thumb) and Anunoby (ankle) have both been dealing with injuries, but are expected to play without any limitations on Wednesday. As previously stated, the Bulls will be without Ball for the remainder of the season.
Betting trends to watch
- The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings between the teams.
- The Bulls are 12-5 ATS in the past 17 meetings between the teams in Toronto.
- Toronto is 15-5-1 ATS in its past 21 home games.
Wagers to consider
- Bet Boost – Same Game Parlay – Raptors to win, Pascal Siakam to score 20 or more points, Pascal Siakam to record 10 or more rebounds: +500. If the Raptors win this game, and they should on home court, Siakam will be the one stuffing the stat sheet. He’ll be playing huge minutes in this matchup and will be counted on to help on the glass with Vucevic sniffting around the basket.
- Player Double-Double – Pascal Siakam: +180. For the above mentioned reasons, taking Siakam to record a double-double on its own should be taken into consideration.
- Player Steals – OG Anunoby Over 1.5: +125. Anunoby led the league in steals with just under two per game and he’ll be even more aggressive on defence during this do-or-die game. As previously stated, he’s forced six turnovers while guarding DeRozan in three games this season.