Add Home Favorite to NBA Picks for Nets vs. Raptors

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 11:55 AM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 11:55 AM UTC

The Toronto Raptors aren’t quite as good without DeMar DeRozan, but they’re still laying 11 points on Wednesday’s NBA odds board to the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Let’s hope the roof at the ACC doesn’t leak.

Jason’s record as of Dec. 16: 17-16-1 ATS, 1-3 Totals

Of all the things that have gone wrong for the Brooklyn Nets this season, here’s a new one: The roof at Barclays Center sprung a leak Tuesday night, 10 minutes into their game against the Miami Heat. After a half-hour delay, the festivities continued, and Miami prevailed 95-91 as a 6-point dog. This was without Chris Bosh or Josh McRoberts available for the Heat.

It’s a tough loss for the Nets, who fall to 10-13 SU and ATS on the season. And things will get even tougher Wednesday night (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) when Brooklyn visits the Toronto Raptors, the top team in the Eastern Conference at 19-6 SU and 15-10 ATS. Toronto opened as a 9-point chalk (–105) on the NBA odds board before steaming all the way to –11 at press time.

The New-Look AK-47
These have been interesting times for the Nets. They’re 2-3 SU and ATS since Brook Lopez (17.6 PER) was knocked out of the lineup with a strained lower back. He’s not expected to return until Sunday at the earliest. Meanwhile, Mirza Teletovic (hip pointer) was able to play against Miami after missing three games; Teletovic came off the bench and scored five points in 11 minutes.

Not present for the Nets: Andrei Kirilenko (12.4 PER last year). He was shipped off to the Philadelphia 76ers last week, along with third-string PG Jorge Gutierrez (9.1 career PER), for sophomore PF Brandon Davies (8.9 career PER). This may be the start of a series of trades for Brooklyn, although the latest buzz is that the Nets might try to shore up the roster for one more playoff run, rather than blow it up and start over.

The Nets can only hope they can do as well as Raptors GM Masai Ujiri when his team was at the crossroads last year. The players Ujiri got back in the Rudy Gay trade continue to pay dividends, which is doubly important now that DeRozan (16.9 PER) is out with a torn left adductor. Patrick Patterson (16.7 PER) in particular has been excellent in his role as a stretch-4, hitting 46.4 of his long-range attempts.

But the most important of the ex-Kings is also an ex-Raptor. Ujiri was able to trade John Salmons (7.6 PER) to the Atlanta Hawks this offseason in what the Hawks considered a salary dump. In return, the Raptors received Louis Williams (20.6 PER), who’s playing some of the best basketball of his career as one of Toronto’s top reserves. Ujiri even gets to freeroll on Brazilian prospect Lucas Nogueira as part of the deal.

The Johnson Mightier
The Raptors could still use DeRozan back, though. As strong as Williams has played, this has been a poor start to the season for Terrence Ross (13.7 PER) and Greivis Vasquez (12.1 PER). Ross is making some progress in his third year as a pro, but it’s a frustratingly slow process, especially for someone who’s teased us with a Slam Dunk title and a 51-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Otherwise, when it comes down to this NBA pick. there’s not much to dislike about these Raptors. Ujiri added even more talent to the bench this year with one of our poster boys here at the home office, James Johnson (17.7 PER), who leads the team with a plus-3.0 DBPM (Defensive Box Plus-Minus, as per Basketball Reference). And the starting rotation is in good hands with Kyle Lowry (23.1 PER) making an MVP push and Jonas Valanciunas (19.4 PER) getting stronger with each passing game. You can’t even complain about Amir Johnson (16.9 PER) jacking up “summer threes” anymore, not when he’s 7-for-17. We’ll buy that for a loonie.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Raptors

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