Boston Celtics (39-15) at Toronto Raptors (36-16)
Sometimes you just have a really good feel for home a game will play out. That was the case last night when we won our second straight NBA pick by backing the Detroit Pistons at home against the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers had a brutal stretch of schedule that had them playing their third game in four nights, all on the road, all against good teams. It was a recipe for disaster for Portland, and I expected them to mail this one in.
Coupled with the new look, the Pistons looking fired up and with the recent acquisition of Blake Griffin, I expected a blowout. In my article yesterday, I predicted a final score of Detroit 108, Portland 92. The actual final score? Detroit 109, Portland 92. You can’t get much closer of a prediction than that!
Handicapping sports isn’t about guessing the final score and looking like a wizard, it’s about picking up on trends and having a good idea of how things will play out. We have been nailing that all season long and yesterday was a great example how in some games you need to look a lot harder at the situation that both teams are in, rather than the rosters of each team.
Today I will break down the matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors.
The Boston Celtics will look to stay hot and will welcome back star players Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris tonight when they travel to Toronto to play the Raptors. Both players have missed the last couple of games and have traveled with the team and are expected to start tonight.
The Raptors are also looking to stay hot, winners of four out of their last five games, and are looking to close the gap between themselves and Boston for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors are -5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 205.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM PST from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
This is a great matchup of two very good teams that are playing very well right now and peaking at the right time. Both teams have won four out of their last five games, and both teams are getting healthy and gearing up for a stretch run, trying to lock up that elusive number one seed and the home court advantage that goes with it.
Boston will welcome back its best player Kyrie Irving, after he missed the last couple of games with an injury. His absence hasn’t slowed the Celtics down as they went 3-0 without their star point guard. The C’s hit a rough patch in January and that happens a lot in the NBA. Every team is going to get a little run down and banged up at times and let some games slip by, and that is what happened when Boston lost four straight last month.
That rough patch opened the door for Toronto to really compete for that top slot in the East. The Celtics look like they have gotten past that streak and have now won five out of their last six games, with the lone loss coming in a thriller against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in Oakland. Entering play tonight, the Celtics hold just a two-game lead over Toronto in what has turned into just a two-horse race as Cleveland is fading hard. The Celtics would love a win tonight to push that lead even further.
The Toronto Raptors are a very good team. And at home this season, they are elite. The Raptors four home losses are tops in the NBA this season. They protect their home court like no other team in the league. They are enjoying a full week at home, having not played a road game since Feb 1st against Washington. They are going to be well rested and very motivated tonight.
This is a great regular season NBA game that should have a playoff atmosphere tonight. These two teams only play each other two more times this season, so this game could go a long way into deciding which team gets the number one seed in the East. Both teams should be rested, healthy, and motivated tonight. Many times, when good teams play each other in the regular season, there are extenuating circumstances that don’t allow us to see each team’s best game, that isn’t happening tonight. We should get the best rosters and full effort from both teams.
Getting the two best teams in the conference matched up tonight, with no reason to believe that they both won’t be going hard, makes me wonder why this number is so big? I know that Toronto is great at home, but I also know that Boston is great on the road. Here is a fun fact for you that was the tipping point for me in this one. The Boston Celtics are 33-19-2 against the spread this season. And most of those games they were favored and had to not only win the games, but they also had to win and cover big lines. The Toronto Raptors? They are just 28-24 against the number this year.
That tells me that in general, the Celtics are performing much better against the public’s perception than the Raptors are and helps explain to me why this number is so high. I just don’t miss too many opportunities to back a team as good as the Celtics getting this many points. I don’t care if it’s on the road, I don’t care what team they are playing. If you can give me the Boston Celtics, the best team in the Eastern Conference, with a healthy and rested Kyrie Irving on the floor, getting five points, I am going to take it every single time. Give me the Boston Celtics on the road getting a handful of points tonight.