NBA Picks: Raptors To Get Back On The Winning Track vs. Suns

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 1:53 PM GMT

After getting thumped in Denver, the Toronto Raptors will try to start a new winning streak Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns. The NBA odds don't think much of Phoenix.

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NBA Pick: Raptors -9
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 1: 17-20-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

 

It had to end sometime. The Toronto Raptors took an 11-game winning streak into Monday's game against the Denver Nuggets, but they left on the wrong end of a 112-93 final, dropping the cash as 4.5-point favorites. They also lost forward James Johnson to a sprained left ankle. Uh-oh. There are few things in life quite as painful as a sprained Johnson.

Coaching the Phoenix Suns might be one of them. Phoenix put Jeff Horancek out of his misery on Monday; Earl Watson has been named interim head coach, and he'll be in charge Tuesday night (9:00 p.m. ET) when the Suns host Toronto. Phoenix is a 9.5-point home dog on our NBA odds board as we go to press with a total of 201.

 

Mr. Watson. Come Here. I Need You.
Normally, we'd be leaning toward the Suns in their first game after the coaching change. Sure, things didn't quite work out for us when we recommended the Cleveland Cavaliers after they replaced David Blatt with Tyronn Lue. That alone shouldn't stop us from trying this angle again. Like Blatt, Hornacek ended up “losing the locker room” in Phoenix; like Lue, Watson is a former NBA point guard who should get at least some respect from his players.

But the Suns (14-35 SU, 18-31 ATS) are definitely not the Cavaliers. They're the worst NBA pick there is, and they've got much more serious personnel issues, especially with one Markieff Morris (9.4 PER, –5.3 BPM), who's been playing like dog vom ever since his twin brother Marcus was traded to the Detroit Pistons. Phoenix also has to make do without injured point guards Eric Bledsoe (20.7 PER, +3.0 BPM) and Brandon Knight (15.3 PER, –0.6 BPM), while promising forward T.J. Warren (16.2 PER, –1.1 BPM) is questionable with a right ankle impingement.

 

Casey and the Sunshine Band
New coach or not, this is a great opportunity for the Raptors (32-16 SU, 27-21 ATS) to get back on the good foot. Their depth will be tested without Johnson (13.2 PER, +0.6 BPM) and DeMarre Carroll (11.5 PER, +0.1 BPM) on the wing, but Terrence Ross (12.4 PER, +0.6 BPM) has gotten his career back on track over the past several weeks, and there's still some talent left on Toronto's bench.

Let's take a moment to recognize the good work that head coach Dwane “Don't Call Me Dwayne” Casey has been doing. Casey was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for January after guiding Toronto to a 12-2 SU and 9-5 ATS record; he's put more trust in players like Johnson this year, and it's paid off. We can see the more mature Raptors of 2015-16 brushing off the Denver loss and getting right back on the horse. Consider it “altitude training” for Tuesday's game.