Free NBA Picks: Back Veracious Raptors +2.5 Against Injured Celtics

Jason Lake

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 12:42 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 12:42 PM UTC

The Toronto Raptors could have several injured players back in the fold when they visit the Boston Celtics Wednesday night. How will this affect the basketball odds?

Jason's 2015-16 record as of March 21: 28-33-1 ATS, 6-3-1 Total

Not too long ago, it looked like the Boston Celtics were going to mount a late challenge for first place in the Eastern Conference. Then they lost four games in a row SU and ATS, including a 105-91 defeat at the hands of the No. 2 team in the East, the Toronto Raptors (–1.5 at home). Now the Celtics find themselves back in the middle of the pack; at press time, the C's are tied for third place, but they're also just four games up on the ninth-place Detroit Pistons.

What can Boston do for an encore this Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2) when the Raptors come to town? That depends in part on which players end up dressing for Toronto. It's enough of a mystery to keep this game circled on our NBA odds board as we go to press, but we'll walk you through the situation and help you make a sharper pick when the lines come out.


The Big Valbowski
We begin as usual in these enlightened times by guesstimating a point spread for Wednesday's game, using the best free stuff we're aware of here at the ranch. Use your own power ratings at home, if you've got power ratings. And a home.

FiveThirtyEight (CARM-Elo): Boston –1.5
Basketball-Reference (SRS): Boston –2.51

Unless things have changed, neither of these models takes injuries into account, but at least they give us a rough starting point. The next thing we'd love to know is which of the following three players will suit up Wednesday night:

C Jonas Valanciunas (bruised left hand)
PF Patrick Patterson (sore left ankle)
SF James Johnson (plantar fasciitis)

All three gentlemen are listed as questionable. The Raptors (48-21 SU, 38-31 ATS) have been off since Sunday, and they don't play Thursday, so we'll assume nobody else gets held out for maintenance. Valanciunas (22.6 PER, +1.3 BPM) is the key here. Toronto has done well lately with Bismack Biyombo (14.8 PER, –0.2 BPM) starting at center and new arrival Jason Thompson (15.6 PER, +2.4 BPM) coming off the bench, but Valanciunas has the offensive touch they lack.


It's Crowdah, Say it Right
The Celtics (41-30 SU, 38-32-1 ATS) have an injury problem of their own. SF Jae Crowder (16.1 PER, +3.0 BPM) sprained his right ankle nearly two weeks ago, and that's when their losing streak began. Boston has turned things around a little, winning back-to-back games SU and ATS over the Philadelphia 76ers (+12 at home) and the Orlando Magic (+8.5 away), but that was the 76ers and the Magic.

In the real world, you get to wait until Wednesday's shootaround to see who's likely to play, then adjust your NBA picks accordingly. Here at the ranch, we'll take our chances with the undervalued commodity from north of the border, and may the sphere be with you.

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NBA Pick: Raptors +2.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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