| Sat 31/03/2018 - 14:16 EDT

NBA Predictions Tonight: Raptors and Celtics Fight for First

NBA Predictions Tonight: Raptors and Celtics Fight for First

Raptors Must Beat Celtics To Protect First Place

My Team's Next MatchToronto Raptors

With seven games remaining, the Toronto Raptors sit in first place but have the Boston Celtics breathing down their necks. Despite missing Kyrie Irving amongst a rash of injuries, the Celtics have won five straight and get two crucial games against Toronto these next few days. If the Raptors hope to clinch home-court advantage throughout the East's playoffs, they'll need to win at least one of these games.

Toronto and Boston have split their first two games one apiece and are one of the two most intriguing rivals growing in the NBA. The healthier Raptors are the deserving favourites and should get the job done. DeMar DeRozan is probable to play but even without him, Toronto should prevail as they have been lights out on the road while Boston has struggled at home. Either way, expect a competitive game.

Straight-Up & Pointspread Predictions

NBA Odds Courtesy Of Sports Interaction

  • Toronto at Boston: Bet Raptors ATS (-4.5, -110)
  • Detroit at New York: Bet Knicks SU (+135)
  • Brooklyn at Miami: Bet Heat ATS (-7.5, -110)
  • Golden State at Sacramento: Bet Warriors ATS (-8.5, -110)

NBA Lines: Injuries Keep Coming 

Toronto at Boston  Bet Raptors ATS (-4.5, -110)

The Toronto Raptors not being bigger favourites despite Boston potentially missing four of its five starters and its two best point guards is a testament to how good Brad Stevens is as a coach. The Coach of the Year candidate has the Celtics as the NBA's top defence (101.2 rating) and is able to get the best out of his players.

Toronto lost to Boston on the final possession in their first meeting despite shooting worse because they beat them on the boards. However, Boston may be without big men Al Horford and Daniel Theis and the Raptors have improved their rebounding even slightly edging Boston in overall rebounding percentage for the season. 

The X-Factors are Raptors' centres Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl. If they can assert themselves, the Raptors should have their way with Boston.

Detroit at New York  Bet Knicks SU (+150)

New York is probably one of the good bad teams to bet on especially as underdogs against an equally bad Detroit Pistons. The Knicks are 4-1 at home when playing Detroit and the Pistons are only 11-26 on the road. They will also be missing Blake Griffin, which hurts their offence in a big way. 

The Pistons are the sixth-ranked defensive unit (103.7) contrasting to the Knicks being 25th (108.9) although New York has a slight advantage in rebounding. Although if big man Enes Kanter isn't playing, expect Pistons forward-centre Andre Drummond to have a monster game. 

This will be a close game and at these odds, it's better to side with the underdog Knicks.

Brooklyn at Miami  Bet Heat ATS (-7.5, -110)

Be careful of these Brooklyn Nets. Despite their record, the Nets are one of the best teams ATS and are 24-11-1 on the road. With this said, the return of the Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside will benefit them greatly. The Heat are the superior on defence and on rebounding. On top of this, they shoot and hit more three-pointers. There's a reason they are 7-3 ATS against them in their last ten. 

The money is coming in Brooklyn and is bringing down the Heat's spread. Fade the public and go with the Heat. While the Nets are capable on offence, the Heat's defence will be the difference-maker here. The Nets will make enough baskets to keep this game competitive but expect Miami to pull away once they establish themselves.

Golden State at Sacramento  Bet Warriors ATS (-8.5, -110)

After a rough two-week stretch where injuries ravaged the Golden State Warriors, they are almost back to full strength with the return of Kevin Durant and the probable return of Klay Thompson. It's back to business as usual although against Sacramento, the Warriors are only 5-5 ATS in their last 10 and are only 15-21 ATS on the road this whole season.

Statistically, the Warriors kick the Kings' butts on almost all fronts although, like most division games, the Kings play better against G State. The Kings have averaged more rebounds and have actually hit more from downtown. But this Warriors team is hankering at re-establishing themselves as the best team in the NBA and should run through Sacramento with no problem.

Over/Under Pick

Raptors and Celtics in a Low-Scoring Dogfight

Toronto at Boston (U +204.5, -110)

Both Toronto and Boston play solid defence. The Raptors have the fifth-ranked D (103.0) and Boston has the top. They also play a slower-paced game and Boston has slowed down even more to maximize their ball possession in light of the injuries to their top playmakers. 

The last time these two met, the Raptors dropped 111 points on the Celtics but this is an aberration and the scoring will be closer to their first match-up this season. Don't expect a smooth back-and-forth with plenty of scoring. Even if the Raptors shoot at a decent clip, the scores shouldn't go over the expected total.

Bet the under and hope it doesn't go to overtime.

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