The Toronto Raptors are peaking ahead of the postseason and their NBA title defense, but will face a tough test on Friday against the Boston Celtics in Orlando.
After putting four consecutive wins together before the pandemic shut the league down, Toronto has only extended its streak to seven since the bubble opened. Convincing wins over the Lakers, Heat and Magic precede this duel with the C's.
Continue reading for abe Insights' betting preview for Celtics-Raptors, which will give you some interesting stats to consider, the best odds you can find anywhere thanks to our odds comparison engine, and a breakdown of how wagers should trend.
Date: Friday, August 7
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Celtics 48%; Raptors 56%
Spread: TOR -2
Moneyline: BOS +110; TOR -125
Despite a lingering knee issue, Boston floor general Kemba Walker has continued to play in the bubble, progressively increasing his minutes from 19, to 22, and then to 27 in his last outing. Walker sat out the Celtics' 149-115 win over the shorthanded Nets on Wednesday.
Combo guard Fred VanVleet is really stepping up for Toronto in the bubble, posting averages of 23.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 8.3 assists per contest. He and Kyle Lowry are proving that their lack of size in the starting backcourt is not even remotely an issue.
106.7 vs. 104.5: That first number belongs to the Celtics, who boast the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA, aka points allowed per 100 possessions. Strong as that mark is, Toronto is better (hence the 104.5), trailing only the Bucks among the league's elite.
28.4 vs. 25.6: Another area Boston ranks in the top five league-wide is in offensive rebound percentage. The numbers aren't far apart on the surface, yet the Raptors actually have the seventh-lowest figure in this area.
62.7 vs. 55.2: Toronto has a more holistic, balanced offensive approach, with the NBA's ninth-highest assist percentage. The Celtics rank in the bottom four of the league here, often relying on Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Walker to create their own shots.
Kawhi who? Despite the undeniable role Leonard played in leading the Raptors to their NBA Finals triumph last year, no one has skipped a beat in Toronto. In fact, Leonard's absence has only caused other core players like VanVleet and Pascal Siakam to step up.
Siakam in particular has emerged as a top-tier NBA player — and the scary thing is, he seems to have even more room to improve. Now aged 26, Siakam only began playing organized ball when he was 17. It's crazy that he's this good already with points-rebounds-assists averages of points 23.3-7.5-3.5.
The Celtics have done well this year with their own shake-up in star power. They replaced Kyrie Irving with Walker, and have seen their team chemistry, win total and overall unity blossom as a result. But similar to Siakam, Boston's Tatum continues to elevate his play to new heights among the NBA's greats.
Watching Siakam and Tatum go head-to-head will be a treat — and we could see it again in a potential conference semifinals series. Entering Friday, the Raptors and Celtics are the respective second and third seeds in the East. Provided they get through the opening round, they'd meet for the right to advance and likely play Milwaukee.
The Raptors and Celtics basically have 50-50 splits on TeamRankings.com when it comes to point total trends this season. Friday's total is set up to reflect a battle between top-tier defenses, so bettors may want to buck that trend and take more action on the Over side.
If Toronto wins, the No. 2 seed is officially locked up, but Boston is trying to avoid falling back and closer to Miami and Indiana, who aren't far behind in the standings. Both teams have plenty to play for.
With a minimal difference in the lines, though, look for the majority of wagers to side with the Raptors' spread and moneyline due to their championship pedigree.
Note: Odds current as of 1:55 p.m. ET on Friday, August 7.
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