NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Celtics vs. Raptors Game 1 (Sunday, Aug. 30)

Credit:

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket past Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics.

Celtics vs. Raptors Game 1 Betting Odds

Celtics Odds +2 [BET NOW]
Raptors Odds -2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +108/-137 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 216 [BET NOW]
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


NBA fans and bettors have been waiting for this series over the past few years, as the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics kept running into the buzzsaw that was LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This will be first-ever playoff matchup between the two division rivals.

While the Celtics handed the Raptors their only loss in the bubble, the Raps are the favorite here. The oddsmakers clearly think this will be a close series with the Raptors listed as short favorites (-143 FanDuel) while the Celtics are the underdog (+116).

Which team will take Game 1 of this highly anticipated series? Let’s break it down.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are dealing with an injury to Kyle Lowry (questionable) as he sprained his ankle against the Brooklyn Nets, but given his toughness I’d be surprised to see him sit especially with the extra few days off. The Raptors obviously hope Lowry can suit up because they are 1.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court, per Cleaning the Glass.

Toronto has been truly dominant in the playoffs, posting a +17.9 point differential per 100 possessions against the Nets. One of the key reasons the Raptors were able to do this is their defense. They have built on their success from the regular season when they held opponents to the second-fewest points per 100 possessions and second-worst eFG%, per Cleaning the Glass.

The defending NBA champions also possess the unique ability to switch gears and implement a multitude of defensive schemes to throw at opponents because of their length, athleticism, and coaching. Nick Nurse was recently named NBA Coach of the Year, and he is sure to craft ways to limit the Celtics differently on each possession, let alone each game.

The Raptors like to get out in transition, and they do so at the second-highest rate in the league (18.4%). However, this does not translate to an uptick in pace (101.19/ 12th). They play lock tight defense, and their ability to control the pace on both sides of the floor is critical to their success. Of note, when Lowry is off the floor, their pace jumps by about 3.5 possessions/game.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics will be without Gordon Hayward (ankle) and Javonte Green (knee) for this series. The absence of Hayward should not be understated.

Hayward’s on/off splits result in Boston being 4.9 points better per 100 possessions when he is on the court rather than off. This is because he’s incredibly efficient. Per Cleaning the Glass, in all lineups with Hayward, the team ranks in the 83rd percentile in eFG% and 88th in offensive points per 100 possessions.

These numbers both fall to the 23rd and 57th percentiles when he is off the Court. His absence was overlooked against the Philadelphia 76ers because the Celtics just thrashed them in their sweep. But against the deeper and more complete team that is the Raptors, Hayward will be missed.

One thing that does not change without Hayward, though, is the Celtics’ defense. They limit transition opportunities better than any team in the league. This directly opposes the offense the Raptors prefer to run. By throwing off the Toronto’s rhythm, Boston could find an edge to control the pace of the game.

The Celtics’ efficiency on offense (which declines without Hayward), is masked by a slight uptick in pace, per NBA.com. However, this still results in a worse offensive product.

Betting Analysis & Pick

When this game is played, expect it to be a battle in the trenches as each team tries to control the court. Both play to league average paces, but with efficient offenses and defenses.

I think the Raptors take this game and have a lean on the under as well. The total opened at 217 and quickly moved down to 216. It is receiving 26% of bets but 90% of the money, so I will follow the move there.

At the time of this writing, the Raptors are receiving 40% of moneyline bets that account for 28% of the money. However, before the bets were refunded they were receiving 55% of bets for over 70% of the money. My top pick is to lay the extra money and take the moneyline on Toronto in a close game.

THE PICK: Raptors ML -137

[Bet $20+ on the Raptors at PointsBet and Win $125 if they have at least one dunk]

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