Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Dec. 26:
7-7 ATS, 0-1 ML (minus-1.15 units), 7-4 Totals
Friday, 7 p.m. ET
Free NBA Pick: Magic ATS
Best Line Offered:
The Toronto Raptors have the best record in the NBA. That’s nice and everything, but Toronto hasn’t played like the best team in the league – especially since their core lineup got wrecked by injuries. Has the betting market noticed yet? The Raptors are in the red for the first time in what seems like forever. Hmmmm.
If we’re going to fade the Raps, Friday’s road game against the Orlando Magic looks like a good spot to do it. The NBA odds were pending at press time, given the uncertainty surrounding Toronto’s lineup, but we’ll make a speculative play on the Magic here at the ranch and see how things develop.
Overall, the Raptors have made some huge strides this year. They started the season hot at 12-1 SU and 8-5 ATS with Kawhi Leonard (plus-5.1 BPM) working his way into the fold, picking up high-profile wins over Boston, Philadelphia and the L.A. Lakers. But we’ve rarely seen the Raps at full capacity. Leonard has yet to play both ends of a back-to-back situation; Jonas Valanciunas (plus-1.8 BPM) got his thumb dislocated by Draymond Green; and Kyle Lowry (plus-3.4 BPM) has been sitting out games with a bad back. It seems like there’s always another guy or two being shuffled out of the rotation with some sort of injury.
All of which makes the Raptors particularly vulnerable right now. They’re 7-6 SU and 4-9 ATS since Valanciunas got hurt; the “tag team’ of JV and Serge Ibaka (plus-1.9 BPM) platooning at center is one of the big reasons Toronto has played so well, and testament to the wisdom of installing Nick Nurse as their new head coach. Third center Greg Monroe (minus-3.9 BPM) has been a low-efficiency stat-stuffer when called upon. Sad!
The Vooch Needs Your Vote
It just so happens that Orlando’s best player is their starting center. Nikola Vucevic (plus-5.8 BPM) is having an All-Star season for the Magic, playing very well at both ends of the court and hitting a career-high 39.0 percent from downtown. When the Raptors came to town on November 20, Vucevic put up 14 points and 18 rebounds as Toronto (-7) escaped with a 93-91 win.
That was with Valanciunas coming off the bench, too. It was all hands on deck for Toronto that day, save for Norman Powell (minus-1.3 BPM), who’s back in the lineup now. We like the idea of putting Orlando in our NBA picks for the rematch. As always, see who comes out for the shoot-around, find a betting line that fits before you buy, and may the sphere be with you.