Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Pick
Toronto Raptors (33-12 SU, 20-25 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (25-18 SU, 22-21 ATS)
When: Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 – 8:00 PM ET
Where: TD Garden – Boston, MA
TV: ESPN / TSN
By: Keith Franks, NBA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TOR +1 / BOS -1 (Bovada Sportsbook)
Power Rankings: Boston +5
Takeaways From Toronto and Boston’s Most Recent Games
The Raptors extended their winning-streak to five games when they defeated the Washington Wizards in the Capital on Sunday. Overtime was required to determine a victor. The final tally resulted in the Raptors edging out the Wizards 140-138 which caused Toronto to fail to produce a cover as a five-point favorite.
The Celtics come in on the heels of a three-game losing streak which traces back to Boston being submarined on the road in Miami, last week. Most recently, Boston fell on Monday Night in Brooklyn to another divisional foe, the Nets. As a 2.5-point favorite, Boston was defeated 109-102 which also leaves Boston 0-3 ATS in their last three outings. In all three of these losses against the spread, the Celtics were favored.
How the Public is Betting the Toronto-Boston Game
The consensus has remained divided in this pivotal Atlantic Division clash. As a result, the line has remained idle since the market opened.
Mirroring the tendency of many divisional rivalries, the Raptors and Celtics has been quite a competitive series. The Raptors and Celtics have split the last eight meetings with four wins per side. This season both sides have met twice already with each team winning once. Most recently, Boston defeated Toronto in Beantown in November when they hosted the Raptors. As a two-point favorite, Boston successfully covered in a 123-116 win. It is worth noting that overtime was required to declare a winner in this contest.
Celtics Point Guard Kyrie Irving is listed as probable for this game after he was held out of Boston’s last game with a quadriceps contusion. Boston Guard Marcus Smart is listed as questionable heading into this divisional contest as he recovers from an illness. On the Raptors side, Toronto will be without both Center Jonas Valanciunas.
Toronto Will Try To Remember They Are The Defending Division Champs
Though Boston came into the 2018-19 season with a lot of heraldry, it is worth recalling the fact that it is Toronto who won the Atlantic Division and was the top seed in the 2018 Playoffs. The Raptors will see this affair as a chance to remind Boston. In addition to the motivation, Toronto comes into this game as owners of the seventh-ranked scoring offense (114 points per game) and field goal percentage (47.4%). The Raptors are also a top-five free-throw shooting team hitting 80% of their attempts. To complement this, the Raptors remain in the top-ten in three key defensive categories, including scoring (108.5 ppg – 10th in the NBA), opponent field goal percentage (45.3% - 9th in the league) and opponent three-point field goal percentage (34.6% - 8th overall). Toronto will look to employ their defensive tactics to undermine Boston’s sixth-ranked three-point shooting offense that averages a 36.4% success rate.
Celtics Will Bring Their D To Set The Tone
The Celtics already own advantages in the intangibles of committing less turnovers while also owning the deeper bench compared to the Raptors. This plays right into Boston’s hands in regard to their most prominent edge: defense. The Celtics are authors of a top-four scoring defense that allows just 105.7 points per game. Boston is also one of the best at disrupting the shooting operations of the opposition as they allow opponents to shoot a third-ranked 44.2% from the field and just 33.3% from three-point range (2nd in the NBA). Everything that Toronto thinks it can do to disrupt Boston’s rhythm, the Celtics do better. If Toronto seeks to scoff up points from the charity stripe, Boston is right behind them with a sixth-ranked 79.7% free throw percentage.
The most compelling trend that will usher action in on the Celtics here is the fact that the Raptors are 5-13-1 ATS in the last 19 matches that have taken place in Boston. The Favorite is also 4-1 ATS in the previous five meetings.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Boston -1
In many ways this game has a similar to feel to a contest that Boston shined in nine days ago when they hosted a then red-hot Indiana Pacers. Like the Raptors here, Indiana came into the game in stellar form as they had won seven of their last eight and they were also owners of the best scoring defense in the NBA. The Celtics rose up in a high-profile bout like this one and put down the Pacers to generate a season high in scoring while exposing Indiana’s defense in a 135-107 rout. Toronto comes into this affair in searing form against a Boston team whose stock has diminished drastically. With the three-game losing streak combined with Toronto’s current win streak, we get the Celtics at a bargain price. This is furthered by the notion that Boston lost games against teams they should normally beat (Miami, Orlando, and Brooklyn), even if all were on the road. It is scenarios such as these that are prime let-down spots for teams that enter in the form like Toronto. In addition, Boston plays at a different level on its own court and given the fact they were touted by many to win the Eastern Conference, this game is another opportunity to validate that acclaim. Given their ability to come up big in high-profile games (such as last week’s escapade against Indiana), Boston offers equity here as we only need them to win by more than a free throw to cash in. This is certainly fortunate for all who back them as they will win this one by multiple possessions.
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