How to Bet the Celtics vs. Raptors Game 2 Over/Under, Toronto’s Total, More
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Semi Ojeleye #37, Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics, and Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors
- The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors combined for only 206 points in Game 1 of their NBA playoff series, going under the 217.5 total.
- Now the over/under for Tuesday night's Game 2 has been set at 218.5, so where's the betting value?
- Matt Moore explains why he likes the under to hit again, as well as two other angles for the matchup.
What can you trust?
Game 1 of Raptors-Celtics presents a challenge when you’re trying to figure out how the rest of the series will go. First games in a series can often be deceiving. (Remember when the Bucks and Lakers were both going to get eliminated by the No. 8 seeds after Game 1?)
It’s even worse when the outcome is heavily weighted by shooting variance.
In Game 1, the Boston Celtics hit 50% of their 54 uncontested field goal attempts, per NBA.com. The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, hit just 33% of their 49 uncontested looks.
So it’s easy to go the other way and think the Raptors will right the ship based on just shooting regression. It’s certainly true that the Raptors will shoot better at some point this series, but it’s not quite that simple.
Take Fred VanVleet, who was 2-for-11 on uncontested looks in Game 1. Let’s bump him up to 45%, which is just below his 47% rate in the regular season. That tacks on an extra nine points. VanVleet was a -28 in Game 1. Now, the whole context of the game changes if VanVleet hits more 3s, if the game is closer, etc. It’s not as simple as assigning those values.
The greater point is that VanVleet could have shot closer to his mean without it making a meaningful difference. This is what outlier performances do, they can tilt close games and cover up disparities that existed beyond them.
It would be one thing if the Celtics had held a phenomenal, unstoppable offense down, but that’s not the case. The Raptors ranked 17th in half-court offense in the regular season. Pascal Siakam has not taken a second leap after emerging as a sometimes-star last year. Kyle Lowry is no longer a spring chicken.
The Raptors really don’t have the kind of half-court weapons to be great against a great defense without superb off-dribble shooting, and the Celtics have that kind of defense.
Boston’s approach in Game 1 was transparent. They keyed in on Lowry and VanVleet and put two-on-ball on almost every single pick and roll they ran.
The Celtics were fine with whatever the bigs did. Serge Ibaka can have all the shots he wants:
Same thing for Marc Gasol:
They know the Raptors can’t outscore them with those two. Those two are not in a position to be leading scorers, not at this point in their careers, and it takes the Raptors out of what they want to do. Even when the Celtics dropped, their guards got over screens (Kemba Walker was especially good and tough at this) and their bigs like Robert Williams here contested shots from the little guys with sheer length and height:
Is this shot contested?
He’s open, he’s got space, but Walker is battling around that screen, going to get on his hip. It’s rushing little things. VanVleet can hit this, for sure, but it’s the kind of shot you’re OK with.
That’s the key thing in this: the Celtics were fine with probably 80% of the shots the Raptors took. That the Raptors shot poorly on the remaining 20% certainly matters, but Boston got what it wanted.
There are counters, of course. This is just a miss on a great look even with a hard closeout.
That action sprung him, but that’s also a mistake in letting him get loose, something the Celtics can tighten, especially if VanVleet gets hot going forward.
The Raptors will also try and counter with more team-oriented mechanics. Here Gasol catches on the short roll, but no one cuts. No one punishes the Celtics for sending two.
I think there’s value in Gasol’s assists prop for Game 2. The natural counter for much of this is to get the ball to Gasol on the short roll and let him distribute like Nikola Jokic to cutters. It gets Siakam and the role players involved for easy buckets, theoretically.
But Ibaka took seven 3s in Game 1, compared to five Lowry. The Celtics are daring anyone but Lowry and VanVleet to beat them, knowing they’re the head of the snake. Siakam can play better, but Boston is comfortable making him work for post-up contested looks and bringing help.
Now, I think Boston also regresses. It has shooters, to be sure. Marcus Smart hit five 3s. Brad Wanamaker hit two. Jaylen Brown shot poorly from the field, that probably improves, but Smart was a huge swing in Game 1; Boston had a 121 offensive rating with him on the floor. That’s probably not sustainable, and if it is, along with Wanamaker’s play, Boston’s going to roll.
There’s value on the under in the series as a whole, but in particular, if the Raptors are going to win it is likely going to have to be in a slugfest.
With all the offensive fireworks in the playoffs and the bubble, it’s easy to think you should take every soft total for the over. But in the restart, the under is 24-22-2 and 16-12-2 in the playoffs with a total under 220.
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The Raptors can win Game 2, they have adjustments to make on the defensive end. But their offensive drought wasn’t the outlier that it appears to be on the surface.
- Slight lean on under 218 (bet to 212.5)
- Strong lean on Raptors under 109.5 ( bet to 107.5)
- Gasol over 2.5 (-107) assists