Celtics-Raptors Betting Preview: Is Boston Overvalued on the Road?

Celtics-Raptors Betting Preview: Is Boston Overvalued on the Road? article feature image
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Photo credit: USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jayson Tatum and Kawhi Leonard

Betting Odds: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

  • Spread: Raptors -3.5
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

>> All odds as of 2:30 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets


Boston leads this season series 2-1, but Toronto has a 6.5-game lead in the Eastern Conference’s battle for home court in the playoffs.

Will the Raptors hold serve at home tonight or can Boston pull the upset? Our analysts discuss.


Betting Trends to Know

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Celtics faced the Bucks in Milwaukee and gave them everything they had, losing by just one point and covering the 6.5-point spread. Now the Celtics face the Raptors, who are coming off a loss.

Under Brad Stevens, the Celtics have given the best teams in the NBA fits this late into the season. When Stevens’ opponents have a win rate of 70% or higher, Boston is 20-7 (74.1%) against-the-spread (ATS) in January or later, covering the spread by 3.5 points per game. — Evan Abrams

The road has not been a friendly environment for the Celtics this season ATS, which is a huge difference from the success Stevens and Boston had prior to this year.

Boston is 11-17-1 ATS on the road this season — the second-least profitable road team in the Eastern Conference. Between 2013-2017, Boston was 128-95-1 (57.4%) ATS on the road, by far the most-profitable team in the NBA.

The issue for the Celtics hasn’t been their play, as they have a Net Rating of +3.0 on the road this season (fourth in the NBA and their highest road Net Rating under Brad Stevens). Part of the issue may be the spread, as the Celtics were on average a 2.7-point underdog on the road between 2013-17 and this season have been on average a 2.9-point favorite on the road. — Abrams

The Celtics (35-25) and Raptors (33-28) are two of the most-profitable over teams in the NBA this season. Despite that, a majority of tickets and dollars are on tonight’s under, moving the line from 226 to 224.5. Since 2005, in division games when the line decreases at least one point, the under has gone 672-554-18 (55%). — John Ewing


Moore: Why I Like Boston ATS

I’m going Boston here. I can’t find the trends in Bet Labs and there are all sorts of reasons to take the Raptors, but this just screams Boston to me.

Earlier in the season, the Celtics were in a tailspin and had lost to the Jazz and Blazers. Three days later, they beat Toronto. In January, they’d lost three in a row, including games to the Magic and Nets. Two days later, they beat Toronto. They lost back-to-back games vs. the Clippers and Lakers at home, then beat the Sixers.

This is just who this team is this year. I think Marc Gasol struggles more than folks expect vs. Al Horford, Kyrie Irving gets it going and Toronto’s bench isn’t the powerhouse it was last year. I expect a big game from Pascal Siakam, but Boston grinds it out. I like the under as well. — Matt Moore


Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game

Against the league’s best teams (win rate of 60% or higher) this year, the Celtics are a solid 9-7 ATS. They’ve been better at home, but the splits aren’t crazy dramatic:

  • Home vs. good teams: 6-3 ATS
  • Away vs. good teams: 3-4 ATS

It has made a difference, however, whether they’ve been favorites or not:

  • As favorites vs. good teams: 7-2 ATS
  • As dogs vs. good teams: 2-5 ATS

Those two wins as an underdog were their two most recent ones, although they were 6.5-point dogs each time to the Bucks and 76ers on the road. Tonight they’re at just +3.5 or +4 in Toronto, depending on the book.

In general, Boston has been slightly overrated on the road and against good teams. That’s notable, as the guys detailed in the trends section above.

Further, the defense is a little troubling right now. The Celtics just allowed 126 points and a 127.3 Defensive Rating (8th percentile of games this year) to the lowly Chicago Bulls. Overall in February, they’re 21st on defense, allowing a poor 112.8 points per 100 possessions.

And historically, the idea that they’ll bounce back from poor defensive performances is overrated in the betting market. Per Bet Labs, over the last five years when they’ve allowed that type of defensive performance in their prior game, they’re just 16-22 ATS in the following game.

I get it: These are a lot of betting market notes. To be honest, these teams are close when at full strength, and obviously they each have the talent to win on any given night on any given court.

The trends favor the Raptors, but, as we wrote on the site earlier, sharps are on the Celtics. As a result, I likely won’t bet this one myself, but I’d lean Raps -3.5 if I had to pick. — Bryan Mears


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.