Toronto Raptors (34-15) at Washington Wizards (28-22)
We took the day off yesterday, but on Tuesday we picked up what was our fourth consecutive NBA win. I backed the Portland Trailer Blazers on the road against the L.A. Clippers playing their first game without superstar Blake Griffin. I suspected the Clippers wouldn’t give a great effort after the gut punch that the management sent them the day before.
It was a clear sign that the Clippers want to lose and lose now! They are clearly aiming for a lottery pick in next year’s draft and shipped off the face of the franchise just months after signing him to a huge five-year deal. I expect Deandre Jordan to be the next player served walking papers as this Clippers organization is in full tear down mode.
The game went a lot like I expected, the Blazers ran up what was a huge lead in the third quarter and coasted to the easy road victory. It was the NBA equivalent of free money and was one of the few times that everyone, the public and the sharps alike, all jumped on one side and it came through.
This line opened at Blazers +2.5 and closed at Blazers -3, a huge move for a mid-week random NBA game, and we all got paid. Today I will focus on a similar matchup of a team that is adapting to play without its best player, as the Washington Wizards will host the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors will travel to Washington, D.C. Thursday night to face a Raptors team missing its best player, John Wall. The Raptors come in just a game and a half out of the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and would love to take advantage of Washington’s misfortune tonight.
The Wizards have responded admirably without their star player, having gone 2-0 in his absence but they will have a huge test tonight against an elite Toronto team. The Raptors are -3.5-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 214 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from Capital One Arena.
The Toronto Raptors could very well be the best team in the Eastern Conference this year. The Cleveland Cavaliers can’t figure out things with Isaiah Thomas in the rotation and just lost Kevin Love for what could be months.
The Wizards were fading before they lost John Wall and now without their best player are no real threat for a top-four seed. That just leaves the Boston Celtics as the team to beat in the East, and while they are very good, eventually the fact that Gordan Hayward isn’t on the court is going to catch up to them, and they will struggle somewhat.
That is why I am picking the Toronto Raptors to finish the regular season as the top seed in the East.
Now, do I think they are going to win the Eastern Conference and make the Finals? Well, that is a whole other question, as playoff basketball is its own separate animal. But I do think that Toronto wins a lot of games in the season’s last thirty or so games and takes the top seed in the playoffs. Toronto didn’t need the favor of Washington losing Wall, they were the better team before the injury and are after it as well.
The Washington Wizards have played well since losing John Wall to injury last week. They are 2-0 and snapped the Oklahoma City Thunder’s eight-game winning streak. But before this recent stretch, the Wizards were just 5-6 without Wall on the floor.
He leads the team in scoring and is second in the NBA in assists. You just can’t replace that type of production. They did the proverbial pick themselves up by the bootstraps move in the first couple of games without him, but I think tonight they get dished a dose of reality against a very good Raptors team.
The Wizards weren’t playing all that well even with Wall on the court in the month of January. They were just 5-6 in January before Wall got hurt. They got a big emotional lift when he got hurt, but that isn’t going to hide the fact that they are a flawed team and were struggling this season.
Teams just don’t get blown out in the NBA at home very often these days. Even without Wall on the floor, this game should be competitive. But like I said above I would have liked the Raptors in this spot even with Wall on the court. I think the Raptors will expose just how short-handed Washington is tonight and take this game fairly easily on the road.
Toronto should be well rested after a three-game homestand and the night off yesterday. It is a short trip to Washington, so they aren’t going to be over traveled or tired. I expect the Raptors to show everyone tonight who the best team in the Eastern Conference is and win this game easily.
Give me the Toronto Raptors tonight on the road laying -3.5-points.