NBA Picks: Lay The Points In Raptors vs. Pistons Potential Playoff Preview

Sterling Xie

Monday, February 8, 2016 1:55 PM GMT

Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 1:55 PM GMT

The Raptors travel to take on the Pistons after winning 10 of its last 11 games, and we tell you why you should lay the points on the Raptors with your NBA picks.

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Free NBA Pick: Raptors -2
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Recent Trends & History
On the verge of returning to the postseason for the first time since 2010, the Detroit Pistons have built their breakout season on the strength of their homecourt advantage. Besides a shiny 16-8 record at the Palace at Auburn Hills, the Pistons have also generated positive advanced metrics at home. On a per 100 possessions basis, the Pistons have a plus-5.6 net rating, the 10th-best in the league and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, Detroit is 16-7 against the spread (ATS) at home, the best winning percentage ATS in the entire league. 

Because of this, the Pistons are slight one-point favorites on Monday night against the visiting Toronto Raptors, who hold the second-best record in the East. Toronto does have a winning record ATS on the road (14-11-1), but more importantly, the Raptors are on a roll ever since the injury to starting wing DeMarre Carroll. Since Carroll underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 6, the Raptors are a league-best 13-1, having outscored opponents by an average of 8.9 points per game. Only the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have eclipsed Toronto's per-game point differential since Carroll's injury.

The key to competing against the Raptors starts with defending their All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan. The guard tandem dominates the Toronto offense, as they have the highest usage rates (possessions that end in a shot or turnover by a particular player) on the team (26.0 percent for Lowry, 29.6 percent for Derozan). Moreover, both have remained the most efficient players on the Raptors, leading the team in PER, true shooting percentage and win shares.

The Pistons do not have a particularly strong antidote to that problem with Reggie Jackson, who has a team worst 107 defensive rating (i.e., opponents average 107 points per 100 possessions with Jackson on the court). Moreover, starting two-guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is out until after the All-Star break after sustaining a groin injury at Boston last week. Detroit has been starting rookie Stanley Johnson in KCP's absence, but the first-rounder has proven overmatched, netting a minus-1.8 boxscore plus-minus thus far this season. Excluding Steve Blake, who has appeared in only 29 games this season, that is the worst boxscore plus-minus rating for any Detroit player averaging over 10 minutes per game.

 

Betting Analysis
The Pistons do have an All-Star to anchor around in Andre Drummond, but the Raptors do not particularly thrive near the basket offensively. Toronto is shooting just 56.6 percent on shots less than five feet, 20th in the league, and attempts only 28.4 shots per game from that range, 17th in the league. Moreover, Drummond's post-oriented offensive game could encounter resistance on Monday. The Raptors have allowed opponents to shoot 56.1 percent on shots less than five feet, 10th-best in the league. The tandem of Bismack Biyombo and Jonas Valanciunas have both been above-average defenders at center, combining for 3.2 defensive win shares thus far. For reference, Drummond alone has 3.7 defensive win shares this season.

Nevertheless, if Drummond's rim protection and post scoring can't carry the Pistons, it is difficult to envision Detroit winning this game. The Pistons did beat the New York Knicks in the game immediately following Caldwell-Pope's injury, but fell flat at Indiana on Saturday night, allowing all of the Pacers' starting wings (Paul George, George Hill and Monta Ellis) to accumulate an offensive rating of 121 or better. Given Toronto's similarly perimeter oriented offense, a similar defensive showing would bode ominously for the Pistons.

Detroit opened as a 1.5-point favorite in the NBA odds boards, but most books have this down to minus-1 or a pick 'em. Nevertheless, recent trends suggest the Raptors should be favored on the road, even in spite of the Pistons' sterling 2015-16 track record on their home court. Lay the points for Toronto with your NBA picks, and look for the Raptors to deliver a profit in a potential first-round playoff preview.

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