It looked dicey for a second there, but the Philadelphia 76ers held off a 41-point explosion from the Chicago Bulls in the first quarter last night and wound up covering their -11.5 point spread. It was never an easy spread to hit, but it offered a solid -110 price and all the logic pointed to it converting.
The win moved me to a perfect 3-0 on the young NBA season. I haven’t chased an underdog yet this year, largely because I have not seen amazing value and I’m also hitched to the Eastern Conference. I refuse to do so just for the sake of “aiming high”. My goal every time out is to get our readers a win and that’s what I aim to do again on Friday evening.
There is a lot to work with here, as 18 teams will be in action. Of the lot, the game that really stands out to me is in Toronto, where the new-look Raptors host the Boston Celtics. Toronto is the understandable favorite, as they won the division last year and were also a blistering 34-7 in Canada.
However, the Raptors are still integrating Kawhi Leonard and the chemistry might not fully be there just yet. Does that mean we should jump on the east’s favorite to get to the Finals, or is there another bet to target here?
Boston Celtics (+3, -110) @ Toronto Raptors (-3, -110) Total: 209 (-110)
To be frank, I think you can argue every side of this game. It’s set up very tightly with a 3-point spread and the Raptors at home (-150 at Bovada) as a straight up winner is a pretty nice price. The Raptors were crazy good on their home floor last year, but it’s worth pointing out that they were only a middling squad (21-21) ATS when favored at the Air Canada Centre.
Boston, meanwhile, was a respectable 13-11 ATS as a road dog and was also quite good on the road in general, going 28-20 straight up outside of the TD Garden.
I personally don’t get much from last year’s data. These teams split the regular season series last year as well, each going 2-0 on their home floor. Maybe that spells this one out for us, but much like I felt they’d be at home in their opener against the Sixers, I think the Celtics are on a mission.
Eventually Toronto will feel Kawhi Leonard’s impact and the Raptors will be a force to be reckoned with. Make no mistake about it, this division is not one Boston can run away with. It will be a tight race right down to the finish. That being said, Boston is the better team at the moment.
The Celtics have more experience and production as a cohesive unit, they have a little more star power, they have the slightly better defense and they are also quite a bit deeper. Toronto is not far behind and if you want to point to how good they’ve been at home, I can’t blame you. However, the Celtics still look like the better team and getting them at a cool +135 at GTbets just feels like such a steal.
I also like the Hawks (+275) and Cavs (+300) if you really want to aim high tonight (although Cleveland ATS +8.5 feels less riskier) and you can try playing it safe with Boston (+3, -110) to simply beat this spread. But this moneyline is too sweet for one of the best teams in the NBA.
Look for Boston to flex their muscle here and show Kawhi and company they’ve got some work to do to keep them from claiming the division title this year.