Raptors-Celtics Betting Preview: Can Boston Get Revenge?
Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard
Betting odds: Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics
- Spread: Celtics -2
- Over/Under: 215
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
>> All odds as of 1 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
The Raptors and Celtics will meet for the second time this year in what could be a preview of the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors took the first game in Toronto; can the Celtics get revenge in Boston? Our analysts discuss.
Mears: Which Team Is Better?
These two teams first played in the opening week of the season, with the Raptors taking it at home by 12 points. In what could very well be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics will try to even the score on Friday.
The big question in this matchup: How will the Celtics find consistent buckets against this stout Toronto defense that seems perfectly equipped to handle the Celtics’ stars?
Kyle Lowry is an excellent defender and can handle Kyrie Irving. One of Boston’s biggest strengths is its sheer number of awesome wing players in Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown. Two-way wings are the most valuable commodity in the league, and it is a big reason why Boston is so good.
Unfortunately for the C’s, the Raptors have Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, plus an emerging player in Pascal Siakam. The Celtics win the wing battle against every team — except against Toronto and Golden State.
In the first matchup, Toronto held Boston to a 103.1 Offensive Rating and a poor 48.0% effective field goal rate. The Celtics got to the line just 7.1% of the time, which was in the bottom-one percentile of games this year.
They took just 29% of their shots at the rim and converted 42.9% of those attempts (bottom-two percentile). The Raptors didn’t allow any easy shots, and the Celtics posted a truly putrid 73.6 Offensive Rating in the half court.
Those numbers should get better over a larger sample, but honestly Boston’s offense just isn’t that great right now and Toronto’s defense is stellar. The Raps are excellent defending the rim and allow the fifth-fewest corner 3s in the NBA. Everything will be contested, and if Tatum and Kyrie start playing hero-ball (like they’ve done a lot this year), they won’t beat this sound Raptors squad.
Celtics -2 feels about right considering the preseason expectations. But given that I was already lower on them anyway, I don’t mind taking a shot here on the Raptors, who are just better right now. — Bryan Mears
Betting Trends to Know
The Celtics (8-6) opened as 1.5-point favorites against the Raptors (12-3). According to our Bet Labs data, Boston is 98-69-3 (59%) against the spread under Brad Stevens when playing an opponent with a better record in the regular season. When the Celtics have been favored in this scenario, they have gone 26-13-1 (67%) ATS. — John Ewing
The Raptors are 12-3 (.800) on the season and listed as underdogs on the road in Boston. Since 2005, underdogs with a win rate of at least 80% in November or later are 168-138-1 ATS (55%).
Did You Know? The Raptors are just the third team since 2005 with a win rate of 80% or better in November or later to lose two consecutive games in a row and be listed as an underdog.
The last teams was the Rockets (+2.5) on Christmas Day last season against the Thunder (lost by five) and the Warriors (+10.5) in March of 2017 at San Antonio without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevon Durant, Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala (lost by 22).
The Celtics are 5-9 ATS this season (losing bettors 4.2 units) and they’ve covered just one of their past six games. As a quick refresher, Brad Stevens was 50-30-2 ATS last season and entered 2018 covering 54.7% of his career games — pretty damn good.
So what’s changed?
The Celtics are 20th in pace at 100.29 possessions per 48 minutes through 14 games compared to last season when they were 23rd in pace, but averaged 96.82 possessions per 48 minutes.
Under Brad Stevens, the Celtics are 170-136-5 ATS (55.6%) when Boston’s pace is under 100 possessions per 48 minutes entering the game and 51-55-1 ATS (48.1%) when they average 100 possessions or more. — Evan Abrams
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.