Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 15: 25-29-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 34-21-1 Totals
Orlando (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) at Toronto (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. ET, TNT
Free NBA Pick: Raptors ATS
Recommended Sportsbook: 5Dimes
You have to act fast when you’re making NBA picks during the playoffs. We were all geared up here at the home office to recommend the ‘over’ for Game 2 of the first-round series between the Toronto Raptors and the Orlando Magic. We were going to talk about Toronto’s mediocre 12-of-36 shooting from long range in Game 1, and how the total for Tuesday’s rematch had dipped from 212 to 210.5 – but then the sharps got there first and drove the total back up to 212. Nerts.
That’s okay. The playoff see-saw is still open for business; the Raptors are 10-point favorites on the NBA odds board at press time, up from –9 at the open, but that’s still a decent price according to the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight. Their projections have Toronto at –12.5, giving us ample profit margin to eat that chalk for Game 2. Preferably with cheese curds and gravy on top.
We’re only recommending a small bet, though. The Raptors did miss a boatload of open looks in Game 1, losing 104-101 as 9.5-point home faves, but they also could have used some better defense from their bench. Unfortunately for the Raps, OG Anunoby (plus-0.1 DBPM) was a late scratch for this series after having an emergency appendectomy, and Patrick McCaw (plus-2.1 DBPM) is still a game or two away from returning to action after the splint on his sprained right thumb was removed.
Every little bit helps for the Magic. Under the steady hand of head coach Steve Clifford, Orlando didn’t show any of the usual “rookie’ nerves you’d expect from a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012. Seven different players scored in double figures during Game 1; the unexpected star was veteran point guard D.J. Augustin (minus-0.3 BPM), who led the way with 25 points and canned four of his five trey attempts, including the game-winner.
Regression cuts both ways. As a team, Orlando shot 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from downtown, well above their usual 35.6-percent clip. They also had a big day from the free-throw line at 18-of-20 (90 percent), where they usually shoot 78.2 percent. If the Magic keep up that pace, you can toss all those projections into the circular file – they’re going to win the title. It’s literally possible. But we’ll take the team that has Kawhi Leonard (plus-5.0 BPM), Marc Gasol (plus-3.2 BPM), Kyle Lowry (plus-3.1 BPM) and Danny Green (plus-2.9 BPM) thank you kindly.