Atlantic Division rivals will collide as the Toronto Raptors travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in a test of Eastern Conference powers. Let's review the NBA odds in this Friday night showdown.
The Raptors acquitted themselves quite nicely last night in their 124-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, after seeing their six-game winning streak doused by the Cavaliers in their previous outing. Toronto not only rebounded with a victory but they rewarded all those who backed them in their NBA picks as nine-point home favorites. However, that cover was in peril much of the night until the Raptors poured it on in the fourth quarter and outscored Minnesota 36-21.
While the Raptors were battling last night, the Celtics were sitting. Boston's last hardcourt action came on Wednesday night when they wrapped up a three-game road trip in Orlando by throttling the Magic 117-87, easily covering the one-point impost being hung by the NBA odds makers. It was a surprisingly strong performance by the Green considering they were narrowly defeated by the Rockets in their previous game by the score of 107-106 as 5 ½-point road dogs. Boston has now won three of their last four and has covered the number in their last pair.
These Atlantic Division rivals have not met this season but Toronto won three of the four meetings between the clubs last season. The only game in which Boston came away victorious was in the last of the four back in March when the Celtics drew away to a 91-79 win as four-point home chalk. But that was last season and tonight it's all shiny and new. The big question mark is the status of Boston's All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas who sustained a groin injury in Monday night's narrow loss to Houston. Thomas was sidelined in Wednesday's blowout of the Magic and he remains questionable for tonight.
Whether Thomas goes or not, I am leaning towards the visitor in this one. The Raptors are 6-3 straight up and 7-2 ATS on the road this season while the Celtics are just 5-4 straight up and 3-6 ATS at the Garden this year. Toronto has a big edge offensively, currently averaging 111.5 PPG which is good for 3rd in the NBA while the Celtics average 105.3 PPG, placing them 11th in the NBA. Both teams are subpar in rebounds (25th and 26th respectively) and in the middle of the pack defensively (13th and 14th respectively).
The long and short is that I actually like the Raptors more if Thomas does go because the line will be a bit friendlier towards Toronto and it is fair to say Thomas won't be one hundred percent. Either way, take the visiting Raptors who dominated in this series last season and will continue that trend tonight with a more explosive offense. Oh, and if you're worried about the fact they are playing on zero days rest then think again because Toronto boasts a 16-5 ATS mark over their last 21 games when playing on the second night of back-to-back contests.