NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 27, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Thursday.

There could be a dangerous underdog north of the border Thursday night when the Washington Wizards (29-28, 14-14 away) pay a visit to the Toronto Raptors (32-25, 16-11 home) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, ON Canada at 7:05 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Washington as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +5 with odds of -103.

The Wizards seem primed to stop their six-year playoff drought, as after being Eastern Conference doormats the last few years, they are currently one game over .500 and the fifth seeds in the East. Granted they may still not be reliable as big favorites as we cashed in when they failed to cover the spread vs. the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, but the Wizards are quite dangerous as underdogs this season.

The Raptors are the three-seeds in the East and they are guaranteed no worse than a four-seed as long as they win the Atlantic Division. Well, they have been pleasant surprises in that regard as they now hold a five-game lead over the second place Brooklyn Nets, and they are actually in better shape than that as they have taken two of the three head-to-head meetings from Brooklyn. At 32-25, Toronto remains the only team in the Atlantic over .500.

The Wizards are trying to avoid the season sweep to the Raptors here as they have lost the first three meetings with the last two losses coming back home in Washington. This again, the Wizards probably have the strangest home vs. away splits of any team in the league, as it has not really mattered where they have played given that they are just 15-14 at home but 14-14 on the road!

That uncanny road record as has made Washington one of the best bets in the NBA away from home, as the Wizards are a spectacular 20-8 ATS on the road. Moreover the Wizards are 16-8 ATS as road underdogs while making a nice profit on the Money Line over those games going 10-14 straight up.

It helps that former first round draft pick John Wall has developed into one of the best players in the NBA, averaging 19.8 points, 8.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds from the point guard position and 2.0 steals per game. Along with shooting guard Bradley Beal and his 16.9 points per contest, Washington now has one of the most dynamic young backcourt combinations in the league that could be together for a long time.

Now the Raptors certainly deserve credit for surpassing preseason expectations, but they do benefit from playing in what has been the weakest division in basketball this season. For evidence, consider that while Toronto is only three games ahead of Washington in the conference standings that is enough to give the Raptors a five-game bulge in their division while the Wizards have the misfortune of trailing the two-time champion Miami Heat by 12½ games.

Even with the lesser competition, the Raptors are only 17th in the NBA in scoring with 99.6 points per game and 23rd in field goal percentage at 44.0 percent. Granted the Wizards rank just about the same in both of those statistics, but Washington is not the team being asked to give points here and it has gone up against the better schedule.

When you then add in the Wizards’ unique success on the road this season, Washington appears to offer good long term value as a moderate underdog on Thursday.

[gameodds]5/256728/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Wizards +5 (-103)