Pistons Plus The Points Is the NBA Pick vs. Red-hot Raptors

Jay Pryce

Saturday, January 30, 2016 12:54 PM GMT

The Raptors, riding a franchise high 10-game win streak, host the Pistons for the first of three regular-season meetings on Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET). Who will be our NBA pick tonight?

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NBA Pick: Pistons +7.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

The Raptors, riding a franchise high 10-game win streak, host the Pistons for the first of three regular-season meetings on Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET). Detroit covered the number in three of four last season as underdogs, winning two outright. Do they stand a chance against the No. 2 team in the East this time around? 

 

Toronto Raptors (31-15 SU, 26-17-3 ATS)
The Raptors are on a 10-game winning streak, their longest in franchise history.  More importantly for bettors is their record against the number, which is 8-1-1 during the streak. The run has Toronto two games back of Cleveland for the top spot in the East. The much-improved franchise, undervalued by oddsmakers all season, has the third most covers against the NBA odds behind the Spurs (31) and Warriors (27) with 26.  

Toronto’s offense is the key to their success. It has finished in the top 10 in efficiency each of the prior two seasons, and rank sixth this year behind only the West's top four teams and the Cavaliers. 

DeMar DeRozan, the team’s leading scorer with 23.1 ppg, is playing smarter and more effectively. His number of inefficient mid-range jumpers is down from 30 percent last season to 23. The offense is at his best when the 6-7 shooting guard is using his size off pick-and-rolls to beat undersized defenders. DeRozan’s backcourt partner PG Kyle Lowry is the team’s second-leading scorer with 21.0 ppg. 

When the Raptors offense squares off against a team that averages right around the league average or worse at forcing turnovers, they play at their best offensively. Lowry and DeRozan are able to thrive when ball handling comes easy. Against defenses generating 14.8 turnovers (league average) the Raptors are scoring 102.8 ppg at 45.2 percent shooting and are 16-9-2 ATS. Against foes forcing more, Toronto is scoring 98.9 ppg at 43.5 percent shooting. It is 9-8-1 ATS these games with the UNDER going 12-5-1. Detroit enters Saturday’s meeting forcing just 14.1 turnovers per game.

Toronto’s success isn’t one-sided either. Last year’s 23rd ranked defense is now punching at ninth-best in efficiency, allowing 100.7 points per 100 possessions thanks to the addition of defense-first players like PG Cory Joseph and C Bismack Biyombo. 

 

Detroit Pistons (25-22 SU, 25-22 ATS)
The Pistons fell to the Cavaliers at home last night 114-106, making it three defeats straight up and ATS in their last five games. Defense has been tough to come by during this span, gifting 112 points per 100 possessions. In Detroit's last 10 games, in fact, the unit has allowed opponents to score above their team total in eight. 

Both Toronto and Detroit rank in the bottom four of assist ratio, a metric measuring the percentage of a team's possessions that ends in an assist.  Assists can be a tricky tool to work with, but most successful teams have a high number of them on their scores. They often lead to higher quality shots with higher shooting percentages and is a sign of more diverse playmaking abilities. The Raptors and Pistons are both guilty of playing too one-dimensional at times, which can allow opponents to execute significant adjustments. Detroit excels at this on defense. Against offenses averaging less than 20.1 assists per game on the season, it is 8-2 SU and ATS, allowing just 93.1 ppg as opposed to 102.6 above this figure. Since coach Stan Van Gundy took over in 2014, the team is 16-6 ATS in this situation.

 

Final Analysis
Detroit's backcourt has given Toronto's leading scorers fits in recent meetings. DeRozan is 5-of-24 from the field lifetime against PG Reggie Jackson and SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Lowry, meanwhile, is 4-for-15. The number appears a bit too high in this one. I'm on the Pistons +7.5 as the NBA pick for tonight.