The Celtics have been battling hard lately, but we have a hard time seeing them stay competitive with Kyle Lowry and the Raptors tonight. Read through our NBA odds report on this Eastern Conference showdown inside.
Along with Portland and Houston, the Raptors are one of the largest NBA betting favorites on the board for Saturday. They're currently giving away 11.5 points at most of the top online sportsbooks we've run over.
An up-tempo game should be expected here, and that's a forecast that's backed up by the available NBA odds. The O/U is trading at 208 right now.
The Raptors still have an excellent overall record (24-11), but they have to be a little concerned with their recent play. After all, they've dropped four consecutive games, losing to the Trail Blazers, Warriors, Suns and Hornets in succession. The first three defeats are all understandable, especially since they were all on the road, but losing to Charlotte (who were without Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson) at home had to sting quite a bit.
It was a poor all-around game from Toronto against the Hornets, as they shot under 40 percent and then allowed Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson (who combined for an insane 60 points) to do whatever they wanted. Kyle Lowry, who had 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, did everything in his power to put the Raptors on his back, but he got very little help in the loss.
The good news is Toronto is still in a great spot in the Eastern Conference, and they're also going to be getting DeMar DeRozan back soon. That's going to be a big-time boost for a Raptors team that's already been looking impressive for the most part. And, as we enter tonight, you'd have to think the Raptors are going to come out extremely focused in order to rid their memories of that letdown against Charlotte.
In the face of constant trade rumors - it looks like Jeff Green is heading to Memphis - the Celtics have been able to stay competitive and give their opponents a run for their money. Just last night they took Indiana down to the wire, only to lose by four in overtime. Boston was excellent on the fast break and wasn't afraid to push the tempo against the Pacers.
Individually, Avery Bradley led the way with 23 points, but it was Evan Turner that was the primary playmaker - he had nine points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the defeat. Jared Sullinger, Jae Crowder, Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart all hit double figures for Boston too.
Following that heartbreaker, how exhausted will the Celtics be tonight? It remains to be seen, but the schedule has most certainly not been kind, as they just took part in a tiring overtime loss in Indiana and now have to come up against one of the most efficient offenses in the league in Toronto. Needless to say, we're not too confident in Boston here.
We shouldn't doubt Toronto's motivation tonight. They were just embarrassed at home by a shorthanded Charlotte team a couple nights ago, and they have the fresher legs in this contest too. The Celtics haven't been going down easily lately, but this will be their second game in as many nights and their third contest in four days. They're going to be tired.
Put it together and we see this as a great situational spot for the Raptors to come out firing and never look back on their way to a comfortable win.
As we've mentioned in the past, we never feel confident when backing Boston, given their all-around inconsistencies, so we're perfectly fine with adding Toronto to our NBA picks for Saturday night.
NBA Pick: Toronto Raptors -11.5