Raptors vs. Celtics Odds & Picks: Back Boston Against A Depleted Toronto On Thursday
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum.
- The Raptors are missing three key players and their head coach for Thursday's game.
- Meanwhile, the Celtics enter the night winners of three straight.
- NBA betting analyst Nick Alfano breaks down the matchup and makes his pick below.
Raptors vs. Celtics Odds
|Moneyline||+260 / -340|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.|
The Toronto Raptors visit the Boston Celtics on Thursday. This rematch of the 2019-20 Eastern Conference semifinals kicks off the last night of NBA games prior to this season’s abbreviated All-Star Break.
After having two games postponed due to COVID-19 protocols that impacted many players and members of the coaching staff, the Raptors returned to the court and were blown out by Detroit on Wednesday.
Boston is finally on the come-up and will look to extend its three-game win streak against a depleted opponent.
Most teams emphasize their performance right before the All-Star break. In typical pandemic fashion, Toronto has had very little to evaluate.
The five players ruled out for Wednesday versus the Pistons included Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Even head coach Nick Nurse could not be on the sidelines. This quartet is expected to miss Thursday’s game as well. It’s a significant loss, particularly in the case of VanVleet, who had a case to make the All-Star team.
VanVleet is having a career year, and sports a +7.9 efficiency differential, per Cleaning the Glass. Essentially, he is worth almost eight full points over 100 possessions to the Raptors.
He’s also averaging 3.4 three-pointers per game, tied for the seventh-highest total in the NBA among players that have appeared in at least 15 games and average at least 20 minutes per game (NBA Advanced Stats).
VanVleet and Siakam are tied for the team lead in points per game at 20.1. They lead Toronto in usage rate and rank second and fourth, respectively, in assist-to-turnover ratio.
And then there’s Anunoby. Among Raptors who average more than 20 minutes per game, he’s second in defensive rating (107.6) and second in effective field goal percentage (58.2%, NBA Advanced Stats).
The Celtics have been a mixed bag this season, but enter this matchup on the heels of three straight wins. Though the winning margins have been small, they have finished these games strong to pull out victories.
Strong fourth-quarter play is a welcome sign for Boston, as it had a .364 winning percentage in games involving clutch time in February, 24, which ranked 24th in the league (NBA Advanced Stats).
While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have had All-Star-caliber seasons, one thing that has become increasingly clear this season has been the importance of Kemba Walker.
Since February 1st, the Celtics are 7-2 when Walker scores at least 15 points and dishes out at least four assists. During Boston’s recent win streak, Walker is averaging 26 points, 6.7 assists and is shooting 44.8% from beyond the arc.
One of Boston’s strengths on defense is defending the three. The Celtics only allow opponents to shoot 36% from deep, ninth-best mark in the league. Toronto averages 40.2 three-point attempts per game, fourth most in the NBA (NBA Advanced Stats).
If the Raptors’ return to action on Wednesday is any indication, they are in trouble against the Celtics. Toronto lost by 24 points, and allowed 129 to the lowly Pistons.
Kyle Lowry had the best +/- of any Raptor who played 25 minutes or more, and he was -10.
All of this adds up to the perfect opportunity to fade Toronto. Three of the most important Raptors will not play, Nurse won’t be on the sideline, and they just got whacked by the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
While Walker makes Boston a serious contender, look for Tatum and Brown to excel on the offensive end with Siakam and Anunoby forced to sit.
Pick: Celtics -7.5, up to -9