The Raptors nearly got paid last night, but as usual, they coughed it up at the end. They’re still 12.5-point home favorites on the NBA odds board for Wednesday’s game against the Hornets.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 13: 69-71-5 ATS, 8-13 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but Jonas Valanciunas wasn’t on the court for the Toronto Raptors when they needed him most. As his team battled the Boston Celtics down to the wire, Valanciunas was put on the bench with two minutes left to go in Tuesday’s game, and could only watch helplessly as Boston won 95-93 to cash in as 1-point home faves. At least we got something right this week.
We’re inclined to fade the Raptors one more time when they host the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN). Although the Raps might decide to make this a statement game in a rare appearance on the Worldwide Leader. Even if they do, there’s a fat 12.5-point spread on the NBA betting odds board that they have to cover. That might be a bit much to ask in Game 82 of the regular season.
Amir of the Amirs
It also might be a bit much if DeMar DeRozan (17.4 PER) is given another maintenance day. He took Tuesday night off in Boston, as Greivis Vasquez (12.5 PER) started in the backcourt alongside Kyle Lowry (19.2 PER). Vasquez had one of his good days, putting up solid all-around numbers, but Lowry, as he often does, appeared to be trying too hard. He shot 6-of-20 for 16 points and posted a minus-12.
While DeRozan was a surprise scratch, Amir Johnson (15.3 PER) made his return after missing four games with an ankle injury. Johnson came off the bench and played 16 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting as the Toronto reserves outplayed Boston’s second unit. It remains to be seen who will play and who won’t on Wednesday, but fading the Raptors (48-33 SU, 37-43-1 ATS) is always easier when you know that Valanciunas (20.6 PER) won’t be there at the end to spoil your NBA picks.
And that’s When the Hornets Stung Me
Do we really want to support the Hornets (33-48 SU, 38-41-2 ATS), though? This is a meaningless game for them, and not only do they have to play their season finale on the road, they have to clear customs to do it. They’ve also got half their roster on the fritz. But when we tried to fade them Monday against the Houston Rockets, Charlotte did just enough to cover as an 11.5-point home dog in a 100-90 loss. The Hornets are now 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games.
We’re trying not to be too results-oriented about these things. The Rockets didn’t play Dwight Howard, and they let Josh Smith fire up six shots from long range. He made one of them. But it could have been worse: James Harden was 1-of-8 from downtown. These things happen. The Hornets shot 13-of-32 (40.6 percent) as a team to beat the basketball odds, and that was with the starting backcourt of Kemba Walker (17.6 PER) and Gerald Henderson (13.1) going a combined 0-for-5. Not normal.
Since we’re not particularly happy supporting either of these two teams, perhaps this would be a good time to look at the totals instead. The OVER has been doing a pretty good job in general the past month (118-107, or 52.4 percent), but the Raptors have the UNDER at 3-1 in their past four games, while Charlotte has it at 6-1-1 in its last eight.
Nobody said this gig would be easy. We’re going to recommend the UNDER in this situation, but with a caveat: Make sure DeRozan isn’t playing first. His 20.7 points per 36 minutes could spoil our plans if Toronto decides to unleash him and give the home fans something to feel good about heading into the postseason.
Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER (if DeRozan sits) at BetOnline