Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors Pick

by | Feb 26, 2019 | nba

Boston Celtics (37-23 SU, 31-29 ATS) vs. Toronto Raptors (44-17 SU, 26-35 ATS)
When: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 – 8 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
TV: TNT
By: Matt Lowry, NBA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BOS +4 / TOR -4 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 226
Last Time Out: Boston lost to Chicago 126-116; Toronto lost to Orlando 113-98

Keys from Boston and Toronto’s Last Game:

Boston is coming off an embarrassing loss to Chicago by a score of 126-116. Not only were the Cs the favorite to win, but depending on what sportsbook you used they came with a double digit spread! The biggest problem in this game for the Celtics was they allowed the Bulls to shoot 53.4% from the field. They dug them themselves a huge hole at one point, going down by as many as 25. They did make a furious comeback attempt, but were unable to contain Zach LaVine, as he finished with 42 points.

Toronto is also coming off a bad loss, as they got blown out of their own building by the Magic. The score to this game was 113-98. The Raptors were a 7-point favorite in this contest but were unable to slow down the Magic on a balanced scoring night. The biggest problem for the Raptors in this game was no one was able to score more than 20 points. Their leading scorer, Kyle Lowry had 19, but he certainly didn’t play his best game. The other concern was the absence of Kawhi Leonard. They have been unable to cover in four consecutive games, making the Raptors feel snake bit when it comes to covering against the spread.

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Head to Head:

Being division rivals, Boston and Toronto are very familiar with each other. They have already met three times this season, with two games going Boston’s way and one for Toronto. The first meeting was back on October 19th, 2018. This game was won at home by the Raptors. Games two and three were on November 16th, 2018 and January 16th, 2019 respectively and were both won by the Celtics on their home floor. The home records are a big reason why sportsbooks are spotting Boston 2 buckets to open the spread.

X-Factor:

The status of Kawhi Leonard will be the biggest thing to watch. Leonard is by far the best player on this years’ Raptors team, if not in in the top 3 in the entire East, and is averaging 26.9 points per game. The Raptors decided to sit Leonard against the Magic and couldn’t have enjoyed what took place in that game, so with him being listed as day-to-day, it could be another long night.

Trends to Consider:

One of the biggest trends that revolves around this game is how good the home team plays when these two teams face each other. The home team has won the last ten consecutive meetings dating back to January of 2017. Also, the home team has covered in nine of the ten meetings. For whatever reason, the home team in this rivalry plays on another level.

Boston will Cover if:

They can hold the Raptors at or below their season average. The Celtics are 5th in the league in points allowed per game (106.8). However, this completely went out the window when they allowed 126 to a rebuilding Bulls team. Part of the reason for this was the Bulls shot lights out, but still, for a team that is one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, they need to do so much better. Boston also may be fortunate enough to not see Kawhi Leonard this time around. Without Leonard, the Raptors clearly struggled, so if he is unable to go in back to back games, the Celtics will be in a great situation.

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Toronto will Cover if:

They get back to scoring the basketball more efficiently. The Raptors are the 6th best offense in the league, scoring 114.1 points per game. They were nearly 20 points below this mark against Orlando and looked lost without their leader. If Kawhi is cleared for this game, he is certainly poised to have a monster night. In the three games against Boston this year, Leonard is averaging 31.7 points per game. If the Raptors want to remain in the hunt for the number one seed in the East and split with their rival, Kawhi needs to play and needs to have a huge performance.

Matt’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

This is a very tough pick considering the Raptors have not released if Kawhi will be ready to go or not. Without Kawhi, the Raptors would likely not be able to stop Boston. However, there are no immediate signs that Kawhi is dealing with a severe injury, so look for him to return and lead the Raptors to a much-needed win. Not to mention, with how well the home team plays in this rivalry, the Raptors seem like a solid pick.

Matt’s NBA Pick: Toronto Raptors -4