Monday NBA Playoffs Betting Odds & Picks: Count on Raptors Defense vs. Nets in Game 1 (August 17)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Lowry (right) guarded by Caris LeVert.
- The Raptors are a nearly double-digit favorite over the Nets in Game 1 of their first-round NBA Playoffs series.
- Brooklyn pulled off two big upsets in the bubble restart despite missing so many key pieces.
- Joe Dellera is targeting the under and counting on the Raptors defense to show up in a big way.
Nets vs. Raptors Betting Odds
|Nets Odds||+9.5 [BET NOW]|
|Raptors Odds||-9.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+160/-455 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||222 (-113/-108) [BET NOW]|
|Time||4 p.m. ET|
The Raptors and the Nets open up the Eastern Conference playoffs on Monday as the Raptors look to defend their NBA Championship.
And books are not giving the Nets much of a chance in this series.
The Raptors are listed as -8000 favorites while the Nets are +1800 to advance. Even as massive series dogs, I’ll be looking to find value in each game as we break down this series.
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The Nets enter this contest without the help of their star guards, Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie, but they’ve performed well in their absence in the bubble. At the time of this writing, the Nets have three other players on the injury report: Jamal Crawford (Doubtful – Hamstring), Chris Chiozza (Probable – Adductor) and Donta Hall (Probable – Ankle).
The Nets went 5-3 in the bubble and had a few surprising upsets against the Bucks and Clippers. It’s important to view these games moving forward differently than the regular season games though; this is the playoffs and all of the teams moving forward will be motivated to win.
This season, when Irving and Dinwiddie were not on the court, the Nets were -2.2 points per 100 possessions. They struggled with turnovers and forcing their way to the free throw line. One change is the Nets took 40.8% of their shots from three point range, this is roughly an increase of 2.5% from when Irving and Dinwiddie are on the court. The Nets already were a top-five team in 3-point frequency, and they are trending even more in that direction as they have taken 41.2% of their shots from 3-point range in the bubble.
The Raptors enter the playoffs after a very strong bubble performance, finishing 7-1. They posted the top defensive rating in the league, which is not surprising considering they had the second-best defensive rating (the Bucks were No. 1) over the entire season.
The Raptors defense is a strong suit because of its depth and length. They can switch with ease, and this forces opponents to settle for bad shots. This is evident in their opponents’ 50.3% eFG% (second best in the league).
This team is excellent from top to bottom and has a championship pedigree. The Raptors are rightfully a trendy pick to represent the East in the Finals.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This first game will be interesting for a number of reasons. This Nets team is exciting and it’s hard to root against them considering the opt-outs they’ve experienced and the improbable upsets they have had in the bubble. However, the Nets will be throwing some young talent into the fire as they have to guard a battle-tested Raptors team.
I’m curious to see who covers Caris LeVert. He was just named second-team “All-Bubble” as he led the Nets to the 7-seed as their primary scorer. Considering LeVert’s propensity to drive and use his body to his advantage, the Raptors should defend him with OG Anunoby. He has a couple inches on LeVert, and although he is a touch slower, if he plays drop coverage and limits LeVert’s ability to drive, LeVert has only shot 26% from 3 in the bubble.
This is an ideal setup for the Raptors. As discussed before, the Nets like to shoot 3s and the Raptors actually give up that shot at the highest frequency in the league. However, the Raptors are the best team at limiting opponents’ accuracy from 3-point range, per Cleaning the Glass. The Nets might get the shots they want to take (besides LeVert), but that doesn’t mean they will go in.
So do we lay the 9.5 points and take the Raptors?
I’m not going to. Since Kyle Lowry has been on the Raptors, they have been brutal in the first game of a playoff series. Since 2012, the Raptors are 3-10-0 ATS in the first game of a playoff series and 1-5 ATS as a favorite in the first round, per Bet Labs. Maybe this trend ends this year, but my lean would be Nets +9.5 considering this line opened at 10.5 on some books and was changed to 9.5 after a few hours.
Given the shot profile and the Raptors’ defense, I will turn to the total.
The Pick: Under 222.5