NBA Picks: Nets vs. Raptors Game 1

Jordan Sharp

Thursday, April 17, 2014 5:33 PM GMT

The very first playoff game to tip this 2014 postseason is the Nets and Raptors from north of the border. It’s been years since the Raptors hosted a playoff game, and the NBA Odds are the closest of any Game 1 this weekend.

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The Nets did not want to face the buzz saw that is the Chicago Bulls in the first round, and why would they have wanted to? Chicago beat them last season and it would be only fitting to have Chicago on the other side of the bracket. Now the Nets have the Raptors, a team they were 2-2 SU and ATS against this season. 

Now that we have this matchup, I don’t think the spread is a great play on either side. The NBA Odds of +2 ½ are tempting to take points with the Nets, but the total of 194 ½ has been dropping since it opened early Thursday afternoon, and it could be heading towards the right play. This is the first playoff game of the weekend session, and both teams will want to set the tone.

Not only does the intensity of a playoff game make for more defense, so does the fact that these two have already played one another four times during the regular season. Even though the total went over in three of the four, you cannot weight regular season games heavily against postseason ones. The fact that this is a divisional game will make for better defense to begin with, because both of these teams have solid points against averages versus this division, and they have played each other so much they know each others’ sets.

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The Sharp Pick
Another factor that will make this total turn profitable is both of these teams play at a criminally slow pace. They ended the regular season ranked 23rd and 25th in pace, and once again, the fact that it’s a playoff game will make for a slower, more defensive style of game. I put this total around 190, so to see it almost five points higher than that is surprising, and it makes me want to take the under.

Brooklyn finished the year 20-17-3 cashing the under on the road, while Toronto cashed the under at 28-24 versus the East this season. Even though the Raptors were on an over cashing streak of seven of their last eight heading into the playoffs, I think that could be one of the reasons this total is so high.

Another huge advantage these two defenses (and basically everyone’s defense) will have heading into this game is rest. Most of the players from either team have not played many minutes this week, and for Brooklyn, I think it might just make the difference. When the Nets had 2-3 days rest in between games this regular season, the under cashed at 9-5-2. Even though they cashed the over twice in two games with 4+ days of rest, there is never enough data to tell if it means anything.

Look for Kyle Lowry to lock in on Deron Williams in this game, and for the battle of DeMar DeRozan and Paul Pierce to almost decide the game. The playoffs boil down to matchups, and these two teams are pretty even on paper, and it looks like it could lead to the under being a short-term value.

My Pick: UNDER 194 ½

[gameodds]5/264159/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]