NBA Pick: Raptors vs. Pistons Sunday Tilt to Remain UNDER the Total

Jay Pryce

Sunday, February 28, 2016 1:38 PM GMT

The Raptors meet the Pistons in Motor City, the third and final meeting between the two. Toronto won the previous matchups & have covered the spread in six of the last seven at Auburn Hills.

Toronto Raptors (39-18 SU, 31-23-2 ATS)
The Raptors 99-97 victory over the top-seeded Cavaliers on Friday places them just two games back of the Eastern Conference lead. It was yet another game where the defense came up huge. Toronto is 31-3 SU and 24-7-3 ATS when holding teams to below 100 points this season, and have notched 26 consecutive wins doing so, one shy of the franchise record. For what it's worth, the Pistons have equaled or eclipsed the century mark in six of the last seven meetings.

The Raptors defense has shown amazing resiliency on the road. Their 104.4 points allowed per 100 possessions is the sixth most efficient in the league away from home and only slightly worse than its 104 points yielded at the Air Canada Centre. One spot where the Raptors' D has been advantageous for bettors is in road games with an over-under above the league average of 201. Signaling an opponent with an average or better offense, Toronto is 11-4 SU and ATS, holding opponents to 97.7 points per game and below their team total in 10 of them. In games with a total closing less than this, Toronto is 5-9-1 ATS.

Toronto’s offense, on the other hand, is never in doubt. It has finished in the top 10 in efficiency each of the prior two seasons, and rank fifth this year behind only the West's top three and the Cavaliers.

When the Raptors offense squares off against a team that is right around the league average or worse at forcing turnovers, they play at their best offensively. The backcourt tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the team's leading scorers, are able to thrive when ball handling comes easy. Against defenses generating 14.8 turnovers (league average) or less, the Raptors are scoring 104.0 points per game with the OVER going 23-12-1. Against foes coercing more, Toronto scores 99.2 points per game and is shooting a less-than-stellar 43.5 percent from the field. The UNDER is 13-6-1 in these games. Detroit enters this contest generating just 14.3 turnovers per game.

 

Detroit Pistons (29-29 SU, 29-29 ATS)
The Pistons have won three in a row straight up and against the spread following its 102-91 triumph over the Bucks in Milwaukee last night—the first of these victories was over the Cavaliers as 8.5-point underdogs. In the three wins, coach Stan Van Gundy's defense allowed 88, 91 and 91 points respectively. Detroits' defense is hardly ever in doubt this year. Its 104.1 points allowed per 100 possession is eighth best in the NBA.

For bettors to regularly cash on the Pistons, however, their offense needs to show up. When Detroit scores 102 points or more a night, it is 21-5 SU and ATS with the OVER going 22-4. Sinking to 101 or less, they are 8-24 SU and ATS with an UNDER record of 25-7.

The hard part is obviously predicting when hot shooting is going to appear. One may pin their hopes on PG Reggie Jackson, the team's leading scorer with 19.4 points per game. When he nets more than 20 in any given night, the Pistons are 17-3 SU and ATS this year, averaging 109.2 points. When he fails to hit the mark, they slump to a 12-25 record SU and ATS. Toronto gives up just 19.3 points to the point guard position, second fewest in the league behind the Celtics' 18.9. Jackson, who dropped 13 in both earlier meetings, could be in for another quiet night.

An angle I like to lean on in Pistons games is when they square off against foes who accrue few assists. Toronto's 18.6 per game is the second fewest in the NBA. Van Gundy is excellent at making defensive adjustments against teams that operate too one-dimensional or lean on iso-play. Facing offenses averaging less than 20.1 assists per game on the season, it is 9-4 SU and 10-3 ATS, allowing just 97.5 points per game as opposed to 102.7 above this figure. Since Gundy took over in 2014, the team is 19-7 ATS in this situation. Two of the four losses this season came against the Raptors, however.

 

Final Analysis
NBA Odds have yet set the line as of publication due to DeRozan's questionable status. He left in the the third quarter of the Cavs game due to flu-like symptoms and never returned. Nonetheless, the UNDER may be the best NBA pick here with matchup problems for the Pistons on offense, and DeRozan—much more efficient on offense this season—likely not 100 percent if suiting up.

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NBA Pick: Under 210
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes