Raptors' Changing Ways Works for NBA Bettors Seeking Value

Troy Haliburton

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 5:16 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 5:16 PM UTC

The NBA is growing in popularity, and this week of high-intensity basketball is getting people interested in the comings and goings of the league. I have crafted a few picks for bettors to hop on and use to their advantage to make some extra cash.

NBA Wednesday: Raptors vs. Thunder

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Free NBA Pick: Raptors +4Best Line Offered: Heritage

The Raptors were once on the outside looking in of the pace and space movement, as they were one of the few teams who did not implement the 3-point shot in their offensive strategy. Guard DeMar DeRozan has became notorious for his propensity to take mid-range jump shots, but he and the Raptors are changing that narrative. They now shoot 30.7 3-point attempts per game, which is up considerably from the 24.3 they shot last season.

The Thunder are finally figuring out how to play together as a newly formed team, and that means establishing a hierarchy on who gets the basketball. Paul George has distinguished himself as the best player in Oklahoma City, and it would behoove the Thunder to start playing like that. OKC will play at its best when George is the focal point of the offense and Carmelo Anthony is relegated to ancillary role player.

The advantage I would give Toronto in this matchup is their propensity to cover the spread. The Raptors rank fourth ATS with a mark of 19-13, while the Thunder are one of the worst teams in the league ATS at 13-21.

NBA Wednesday: Wizards vs. Hawks

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Free NBA Pick: Wizards -6Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

The Hawks are coming off a thrilling win against the Mavericks in which starting point guard Dennis Shroeder had his career high of 33 points. Schroeder is steadily improving his shot-selection and playmaking skills, while Kent Bazemore is starting to look like the player Atlanta paid handsomely for when they poached him from the Warriors.

The Hawks will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season and establish some type of winning streak. This team is still trying to find its identity after losing every major piece from a franchise that was in the conference finals just two seasons ago. In order to reach that level, the Hawks have to start trusting their younger players more, and that especially includes rookie John Collins.

Collins is a force of nature athletically and an underrated skilled big man in today’s game. The Wake Forest product is averaging 10.9 points and 7.7 rebounds in just 20 minutes of game action. It would behoove the Hawks to play Collins more and let him gain the experience he needs to be more assertive in the future.

The Wizards got back on track by beating the Celtics pretty handily on Christmas. The biggest hindrance to the Wizards is their propensity to play down to the competition. You can’t play in one-possession games with Golden State and then turn around and lose to the Suns and the Mavericks. Washington has a problem dominating teams they should beat, even though they already dominated the Hawks once this season, 113-94. Look for the Wizards to get out of their funk against sub-.500 teams and take care of business against the Hawks.

NBA Wednesday: Celtics vs. Hornets

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Free NBA Pick: Hornets +2Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

The Celtics were one of the NBA's hottest teams, but a brutal December schedule has them struggling. Boston has the top-ranked defense in terms of efficiency, and teams are struggling to score against a team that switches everything and has long defenders who are capable of driving opponents off the 3-point line. That not bode well for a team such as the Hornets, who are struggling to score.

Charlotte has a budding superstar in Kemba Walker. He has lead the Hornets in scoring, even though it has not resulted in a whole lot of wins. Walker is eating opposing defenses alive with his dynamic dribbling display and uncanny shot-making ability. The Hornets struggle offensively as a team, but that is OK when you have a one-man show who can go out and get a bucket at any given moment.

Still, the staple of the Hornets is their defense, anchored by Dwight Howard. He does a fantastic job of contesting opponents' shots at the rim and clearing the ball on the defensive glass. Howard finally might be at the point in his career where he’s starting to realize that he can impact games more with his running, rebounding, and jumping skills as opposed to demanding the ball in the post as he did in previous stops.

Howard will have an advantage against a Celtics team that prefers playing small-ball rather than keeping a traditional center on the court.

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