NBA Pick on Raptors to Continue to Get Revenge on Wizards

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 8, 2016 6:21 PM GMT

The Toronto Raptors are 2-0 this season vs. the team that swept them in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Washington Wizards, and they could make it a hat trick here.

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NBA Pick: Raptors -1.5 (-113)

Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Apparently the road team is bent on revenge vs. the team that swept it in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last year, as the Toronto Raptors (22-15, 20-17 ATS) still have a chance to get a measure of revenge by sweeping the regular season series this season from those Washington Wizards (15-18, 18-15 ATS), seeking their third win in as many meetings this 2015-16 season Friday night at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC at 7:05 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - Mid-Atlantic.

The point spread at Pinnacle has Toronto as a small road favorite for this contest with the current line at -1½ with NBA odds of -113.

 

Two Close Avenging Wins So Far
The Raptors are seeking their third straight Atlantic Division title, but they failed to get past the first round of the NBA Playoffs either of the last two seasons, last year getting swept in four straight games by these Wizards. Toronto is currently leading the division again by 2½ games over the second place Boston Celtics, but its two most gratifying wins may have been gutting out victories vs. the Wizards, first 84-82 here in Washington and then 94-91 in Canada.

The Wizards meanwhile may have some work to do if they want to return to the playoffs for the third straight year following a prolonged playoff drought prior to that. In fact, Washington is currently three games under .500 overall and in last place in the Southeast Division, and it has not helped that the Wizards are a losing 8-10 as NBA picks straight up here in their own building so far.

 

Improved Defense
The Raptors were the -200 favorites to “three-peat” as Atlantic Champions before the season, and so far so good, albeit narrowly over the pesky Celtics. However, while the results have been similar to previous years, the means have not as Toronto has gone from simply outscoring many teams the last two seasons to playing much stiffer defense this year.

In fact, the Raptors are a bit down offensively this season, ranking only 19th in the NBA in scoring with 100.1 points per game and 21st in field goal percentage at 43.7 percent. In past years, scoring 94 and especially 84 points respectively in the first two meetings with Washington would have proven fatal, but not this year, not with Toronto ranking fourth in the league in points against at 96.9 per game and seventh in field goal percentage allowed at 43.5 percent.

Granted, much of that defensive improvement had to do with the free agent acquisition of one of the best shutdown defenders in the league in DeMarre Carroll, who unfortunately will now be out a while after having arthroscopic right knee surgery. However, the Raptors showed that they can still defend without their best defender in their last game Wednesday night in Brooklyn, in fact surrendering a season-low in a 91-74 victory over the Nets.

That win also continued the fine Toronto play on the road this season where the Raptors have a winning straight up record of 11-9, which is in contrast to the losing home record for Washington.

 

Wizards Decline
Meanwhile the Wizards are simply not playing as well as they did the last two years, especially defensively, and there might also be some locker room issues after All-Star John Wall publicly questioned the coaching decisions of Randy Wittman earlier this season. It seemed that Washington turned a corner when it finally got to the .500 mark, but it has since lost four of the last five games including losing three times in four games here at home during this skid.

But back to the defense, we felt the Washington defense was one of the most underrated in the NBA last season when the Wizards finished second behind only the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors in field goal percentage allowed at 43.3 percent while allowing 97.8 points per game. However, they have slipped all the way down to second to last in the league in field goal percentage allowed at 46.5 percent this year, with the points against average rising to 104.3!

Moreover, Washington is only slightly ahead of Toronto offensively ranking 17th with 101.1 points per game, so when combined with the declining Wizards’ defense and improved Raptors’ defense, it is really now surprise that Toronto has won the first two meetings and we like its chances of making it 3-0 head-to-head so far this season here tonight.

 

Washington Actually Worse Recently
Finally, as mediocre as the Wizards have been statistically over the entire season, they have been worse over their current 1-4 slump, averaging only 95.0 points on a dismal 42.7 percent shooting offensively while simultaneously allowing 102.2 points per game on a generous 46.7 percent shooting defensively.

Look for more of the same here with Toronto continuing its quest to sweep the team that swept it out of the playoffs last year this regular season with a third straight win over the Wizards in Washington, DC on Friday.