The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors will meet in Friday's Game 7 to decide who moves forward to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Toronto won 125-122 in Game 6 to force tonight's decider, continuing a clear trend of collective resilience. It took a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the Raptors to avoid a 0-3 series deficit, so it'll be interesting to see how those contests impact Boston in this one.
Read on for abe Insights' preview, which features the best odds across all major sportsbooks, analysis of the main betting lines, stats to consider and more information to aid your betting thought process.
Date: Friday, September 11
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Celtics 57%; Raptors 44%
Spread: BOS -2.5
Moneyline: BOS -135; TOR +125
Raptors forward Serge Ibaka suffered an ankle sprain in Game 5, but suited up for the last contest and proceeded to score 13 points in 21 minutes. Apparently Ibaka is doing just fine, and beyond his ailment, neither team has had notable injuries of late.
Ibaka has always been a solid defender, and his size and quickness gives Toronto a little different style of player to guard the Celtics' more athletic players on the wing.
16.4 vs. 12.9: One area the Raptors are clearly better than Boston in is turnover percentage. Over the past six contests, it's been ball security that's helped Toronto offset horrendous shooting, and it's factored heavily into keeping the series going this long.
47.7 vs. 40.5: These numbers are simple, but important — they're the rebounds per game during the conference semifinals for the Celtics and Raptors respectively. If Boston's big-time playmakers are on point and helping the effort to crash the glass, Toronto will be hard-pressed to win.
53.4 vs. 48.7: Finally, we have effective field goal percentage for the series, wherein the Celtics are superior yet again. Defense should be strong on both sides in Game 7, but Boston's multitude of gifted scorers could well be the difference.
Norman Powell came up big in Game 6 with 23 points for the Raptors. Somebody other than Kyle Lowry needed to, especially with leading scorer Pascal Siakam continuing to struggle against the Celtics' stout D.
Siakam has been disappointing throughout the playoffs, shooting 39.4% from the field and 19.2% on 5.2 attempts per game from 3-point range. He hasn't finished at the rim like he's capable of doing, and is just checked out despite having a size and/or athleticism advantage on anyone Boston throws at him.
Despite a woeful 5-for-19 shooting performance the last time out, credit Siakam for impacting Toronto's season-saving win in other ways. He did have eight boards and dished out six assists, so if he has that all-around involvement and find his stride in getting more buckets, the Raptors' young franchise cornerstone can give them a boost to advance.
It's unlikely Powell will come up so big again, and unless Siakam gets it done or Fred VanVleet overcomes his own offensive challenges (shooting 33.7% in the second round), Toronto likely must rely on defense to grind out another "W."
The Celtics are favored in spite of how much momentum the Raptors have. They're stocked with more capable, self-sufficient scorers who can overcome tough defense and still execute at a high level. As long two of Boston's trio featuring Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker are shooting at a passable rate, the C's should be in great shape to move forward.
This grand finale to an epic series has a low point total for a reason. The score at the end of regulation in Game 6 was tied at 98. Recall, too, the last two Game 7s we've witnessed in the NBA playoffs: Houston and OKC combined for 206 points, and before that, Denver and Utah combined for only 158.
Even taking the average or skewing to the higher end of those two outcomes falls below the current line. Given how sound these defenses are for Boston and Toronto, look for bettors to hammer the Under.
When it comes to spread and moneyline wagers, the majority will likely go to the Celtics. That said, there's something appealing about the Raptors stealing this series, and it feels fitting they're being dismissed by oddsmakers despite being the defending NBA champions.
Note: Odds current as of 2:15 p.m. ET on Friday, September 11.
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