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The Raptors are atop the Eastern Conference standings and we’re now in March … who woulda thunk it? Plus, the Wizards are right on the heels of Cleveland and have a decent chance of pushing them down to the No. 4 seed … who woulda thunk that?

Those two teams face off tonight, with Toronto a small road favorite. Meanwhile, the Jazz are heating up and host the Timberwolves on the tail end of a back-to-back. They’re in a tight race for the No. 8 seed in the West along with the Nuggets and Clippers.

We dive deep into these two matchups and hit on all the rest of the games on a big Friday night slate. — Mark Gallant

All info as of Friday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.

If there’s a specific matchup you want to jump to, click the quick links below. For live spreads and bet percentages, check out this page. Follow the latest injury info on our industry-leading news feed. To get access to our premium betting tools, subscribe here.

TOR-WAS | MIN-UTA | Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate


The Main Events

TORONTO RAPTORS (-3.5) AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS | O/U: 216.5

8 p.m. ET | ESPN

What I’m watching for: Fantastic matchup. I wrote about how the Wizards are different without Wall earlier this week, and part of that has to do with the dynamics of their offense. The Raptors are really good at defending what the Wizards do well without Wall, ranking No. 1 in defending the pick and roll in pass-out situations, choosing to give the ballhandler space to operate.

 

What does this mean? It means Bradley Beal is going to have a field day. He should be able to rise and fire vs. Jonas Valanciunas when he drops in coverage. But the spot-up weapons and cutters that Washington uses to produce open looks will be defended tighter.

In other words, this could be a great playoff preview. (Washington looks to be on pace for a No. 4 seed and could face Toronto in a second-round matchup, if the Raptors don’t go full Playoff Raptors in Round 1.) — Matt Moore

What the metrics say: It’s not very common for an NBA team to have an offensive advantage in every single Four Factors category, but it’s true with the Raptors (see chart below). Toronto has been absolutely unstoppable lately, ranking first in the league by a country mile with a stupid-high +17.3 net rating. The Raptors are humming right now, and they’ve been excellent in the half court all year, ranking fourth in half-court offense and second in half-court defense. Washington, meanwhile, has been excellent in transition defense but mediocre in the half court. The Wiz have actually won two of the three matchups this season, but they likely got a little lucky in the process. For example, in their most recent contest, the Wiz put up 122.0 points per 100 possessions largely thanks to shooting 62.1 percent from midrange; that’s in the 97th percentile of all games this year. I wouldn’t expect that to continue in this one with the way the Raps are playing now. — Bryan Mears

DFS nugget: This is obviously a tough spot for the Wizards for all the reasons outlined above, but they still could have some DFS appeal on today’s slate. Beal has been priced down to $7,900 on FanDuel, giving him a Bargain Rating of 93 percent. He also has historically fared extremely well against the Raptors, exceeding salary-based expectations by an average of 7.59 points while posting a Consistency Rating of 91.7 percent. Otto Porter could be worth consideration on DraftKings, as well: He’s exceeded 30 DraftKings points in nine straight games and has a Bargain Rating of 86 percent. — Matt LaMarca

Trend to know: With both the Thunder and Wizards, Scott Brooks is 30-19-1 ATS (61.2%) at home against teams with a win rate of 70% or higher. Brooks moves to 14-7 ATS (66.7%) when play as a home underdog in that spot. — Evan Abrams


MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES AT UTAH JAZZ (-7) | O/U: 208

10:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

What I’m watching for: Utah’s likely to play like it’s desperate. The Jazz don’t have a lot of room for error with their playoff positioning, and the altitude on a back-to-back isn’t a great spot for Minnesota.

 

One player who will be key is Joe Ingles. He’s one of the best in the league at spot-up 3s, particularly unguarded ones, boasting the second-best eFG% when open behind just Stephen Curry. The Wolves’ defensive rotations are always lagging behind like they’re on dial-up internet, and with the fatigue factored in? That’s a painful combination.  — Matt Moore

DFS nugget: This game doesn’t have a ton of appeal from a DFS perspective given that it has the lowest total of the day. That said, Karl-Anthony Towns has seen his price reduced to just $9,100 on DraftKings in anticipation of the difficult matchup, giving him a Bargain Rating of 98 percent. He’s fared well against the Jazz historically, exceeding salary-based expectations by an average of 4.77 points. — Matt LaMarca

Metrics to watch: The Wolves have had drastic home/away splits in the Towns era, and that hasn’t changed this year even with Jimmy Butler in town. On the year, the Wolves rank fourth with a +6.9 net rating at home vs. 12th with a -0.6 net rating on the road. Further, they’ll be playing on the second leg of a back-to-back in Utah, which is one of the worst places to play in this spot. Per Bet Labs, visiting teams in Utah have gone a respectable 29-27-3 ATS, but, according to the FantasyLabs Trends tool, offenses have really struggled. Players on DraftKings have scored 2.3 fantasy points below salary-based expectations — by far the worst situation in the league. On the surface, this seems like a great matchup between a top-five offense and a top-five defense, but in reality it may just be a sloppy affair with the Wolves taking on two tough defenses in less than 24 hours. — Bryan Mears

Trend No. 1 to know: At the end of the Jazz’s 11-game winning streak, they began another streak: a five-game ATS losing streak. Since 2005, teams on a five-plus-game ATS losing streak have not fared well at home or as a favorite:

  • At Home: 47.5% ATS
  • As Home Favorite: 45.7% ATS — Evan Abrams

Trend No. 2 to know: Tom Thibodeau has had success in his career on back-to-backs. In the three categories below, Thibs is above .500 ATS with both the Bulls and Wolves:

  • Overall: 54.5% ATS
  • As Underdog: 58.5% ATS
  • In Conference: 55% ATS — Evan Abrams

Quick Hits on the Rest of the Slate

DETROIT PISTONS (-2.5) AT ORLANDO MAGIC | O/U: 215

7 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: HEZONJA! That is all. — Matt Moore

Trend to know: The Pistons won and covered their last game against the Bucks at home. Detroit hasn’t won and covered back-to-back games since Dec. 15. Over the past three seasons, Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons are 43-55-4 ATS (43.9%) after an ATS win. — Evan Abrams

CHARLOTTE HORNETS AT PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (-4) | O/U: 214

7 p.m. ET

Trend No. 1 to know: Charlotte failed to cover its last game by 20.5 points. In the past five years, teams that are underdogs after failing to cover by 20 or more points have gone 161-124-5 (57%) ATS. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: In the odd department: Over the past decade, teams on a back-to-back after playing the Cavaliers are just 10-18-2 ATS (42.6%) — the lowest win rate after playing any team in this situation in the NBA. — Evan Abrams

What I’m watching for: Evan’s stat is fascinating, and you have to think it’s related to getting emotionally up for nationally televised games vs. the King. The Hornets are on the edge of the cliff, and a stumble means their dim hopes extinguish. — Matt Moore

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (-12.5) AT ATLANTA HAWKS | O/U: 227

7:30 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: Klay Thompson averages a career-low in points per game (16.4) vs. the Hawks relative to all other teams. Something about Mike Budenholzer’s scheme causes him issues. — Matt Moore

Trend No. 1 to know: As coach of the Warriors, Steve Kerr is 24-31 ATS (43.6%) against teams with a win rate below 33%. But if you look year-over-year while at Golden State, this season the Warriors have had no issues with the worst of the league. — Evan Abrams

    • 2017: 7-3 ATS (+7.5 ATS differential)
    • 2014-16: 17-28 ATS (-2.6 ATS differential)

Trend No. 2 to know: The Warriors opened as 12.5-point favorites. Elite teams (won 70% or more of games) that are double-digit favorites on the road have gone 69-90 (43%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing

DALLAS MAVERICKS (-2) AT CHICAGO BULLS | O/U: 214

8 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: Via Blog-A-Bull, the Bulls have a -24.3 net rating with Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine together on the floor. Ye Gods. — Matt Moore

Trend to know: The Bulls have struggled overall this season with a 20-41 SU record, and they’re more than 10 games out of the playoffs. When you look inside the numbers, it has been their play against the Western Conference that has kept Chicago out of the playoff race: — Evan Abrams

  • SU: 3-21 (12.5%), -11.5 PPG differential
  • ATS: 7-16-1 (30.4%), -5.4 ATS differential

 

DENVER NUGGETS (-8) AT MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES | O/U: 214.5

8 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: If the Grizzlies want to spook the Nuggets, they should just yell out “Boban!” randomly at them throughout the game to give them the heebie-jeebies. — Matt Moore

Trend No. 1 to know: Memphis has lost 11 straight. Since 2005, teams on a losing streak of 10 or more games have gone 294-245-9 (55%) ATS in their next game. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: The “Grindhouse” is having a tough season, as the Grizzlies are 13-19 SU and 14-18 ATS at home this year. Where the “Grindhouse” is continuing to shine is in the over/under department. The under is 44-27-2 (62%) in Grizzlies home games over the past two seasons — the highest under percentage in the NBA. — Evan Abrams

INDIANA PACERS AT MILWAUKEE BUCKS (-4) | O/U: 212.5

8 p.m. ET

What I’m watching for: The Pacers better rediscover their offense. It’s been absent for about a month, and Victor Oladipo is crashing back to earth like a broken satellite. — Matt Moore

DFS nugget: Myles Turner is so boom or bust, but his upside is extremely enticing on today’s slate. He’s shown a huge ceiling recently, putting up more than 50 fantasy points against the Mavericks on Monday, and he’s in an elite spot against the Milwaukee Bucks. It results in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +5.22 on FanDuel, where Turner has a Bargain Rating of 97 percent. — Matt LaMarca

Trend to know: Milwaukee got crushed by Detroit 110-87 on Wednesday. Historically, betting teams at home after a blowout loss was a bad proposition from 2005 to 2014, going 375-448-16 (46%) ATS. However, in the past three years, those same teams have gone 140-104-2 (57%) ATS. — John Ewing

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (-8) AT PHOENIX SUNS | O/U: 226

9 p.m. ET

DFS nugget: This looks like a smash spot for the Thunder. The Suns will be without Tyson Chandler once again, and the Suns’ defense has allowed a mind-boggling 118.3 points per 100 possessions with him off the court this season. Russell Westbrook and Paul George should be viewed as elite options, while Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony have some appeal as well. — Matt LaMarca

Trend to know: The Thunder are 9-24 ATS (27.3%) as a favorite against the Western Conference this season. At no point all season has Oklahoma City won three consecutive games in this spot; it’s been a weakness all year. When OKC is a road favorite against the West, they are 3-14 ATS, losing nine straight ATS to start the season. — Evan Abrams

NEW YORK KNICKS AT L.A. CLIPPERS (-8.5) | O/U: 228

10:30 p.m. ET

Trend No. 1 to know: The Knicks last played Monday. Well-rested teams (four or more days between games) in the second half of the season against an opponent on normal rest (two days) have gone 75-52 (59%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing

Trend No. 2 to know: Since 2005, Doc Rivers is 24-16-1 ATS (60%) against the Knicks in the regular season — his second-most profitable opponent in that span. Doc was 18-13-1 ATS with the Celtics and is 6-3 ATS with the Clippers. — John Ewing

Top photo via Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports