After an impressive run since the All-Star Break, the Boston Celtics now lead the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, they won’t stick as the top dog for long. They’ll have to play again tonight, and injuries make their opponents—the Toronto Raptors—a juicy target.
Here are my top NBA betting picks for Monday’s action.
1. Raptors -4.5 | -114 at FD Sportsbook
The Boston Celtics won’t have Robert Williams tonight, and it sounded like Jayson Tatum might sit this game out, too. They’re also on the wrong end of a back-to-back, and Al Horford usually sits these ones out. With the incredible eight-man rotation that the Celtics have ridden to the top of the Eastern Conference unavailable, the Raptors favored—and rightfully so.
Although Boston’s moves at the deadline put them in a better position for a deep playoff run, they lack the depth necessary to cover tonight. We will probably see Daniel Theis or Grant Williams enter the starting five (and possibly both), forcing Luke Kornet into the game off the bench. And if Tatum sits, Aaron Nesmith will see the floor, too. All four of those reserves own negative RAPTOR ratings, per FiveThirtyEight. Williams leads the four with a grade of -0.9. Behind him, it’s Nesmith at -2.3, then both Kornet and Theis at -3.3. Those numbers aren’t DeAndre Jordan (-4.9) or Julius Randle (-3.5) bad, but they don’t inspire much confidence. Even ex-Celtic Romeo Langford (-1.3) outranks most of them in the metric.
As a result, we’ll back the Raptors to cover a spread that would be a lot higher if Boston weren’t so hot. Toronto comes into this game at 8-2 in their last 10. They have all of their starters except Gary Trent Jr. available, too. The No. 6 seed Raptors will want to create some separation from the No. 7 Cavaliers and the play-in tournament, and I expect them to get a critical win over the new Eastern Conference leaders.
2. PPD: Jakob Poeltl Double-Double/Spurs to Win | +200 (.5u) at FD Sportsbook
We’ll split a unit on a pair of player performance doubles for the Spurs tonight. The Houston Rockets play at the NBA’s second-fastest pace and rank dead last in defensive efficiency this year, so they’re always a juicy target for opposing players. We’re locking in on their opponents tonight because, despite all odds, the San Antonio Spurs have a chance to knock the Los Angeles Lakers out of the play-in tournament.
Let’s start with Poeltl. The big man averages nearly a double-double per game with 13.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per outing. We’ve seen him rack up 25 double-doubles this year in 62 appearances, including one in his last game against the Rockets. Poeltl nearly got a double-double in their prior meeting, too—he finished that game with 18 points and nine rebounds in just 20 minutes. Poeltl owns a team-best rebound rate of 16.6%. Also, the Rockets have given up the most points and third-most rebounds to centers through the last 15 games.
We’re even getting a bit of a deal, here too! This same bet would come at +150 on DraftKings. Let’s take the value and run.
3. PPD: Dejounte Murray Double-Double/Spurs to Win | +104 (.5u) at FD Sportsbook
Next, Murray should also have a big game. San Antonio’s point guard averages nearly a triple-double per game with 20.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per outing. We’ve seen him get 37 double-doubles and 13 triple-doubles on the year. Murray finished with a double-double in his three prior games against the Rockets. He even had a triple-double in their first outing!
Houston has fared worse against opposing centers than point guards lately, but they still allow to point guards to stuff the stat sheet. The Rockets have limited opposing point guards to the eighth-fewest points, but they have also given up the ninth-most rebounds and seventh-most assists through that span. With Murray serving as the focal point of San Antonio’s offense, I’m not worried about his scoring. He has finished with fewer than 10 points just three times all season, and those games came in November and December.
I’m shocked that the Spurs remain in contention after selling at the deadline, but Gregg Popovich has kept his young squad motivated. Murray and Poeltl will need to step up if this team wants to knock off the Lakers, and I expect them to do so in a should-win matchup against Houston.
Oh, and the odds for this bet on DraftKings sit at -135. We’re getting an absolute steal at FanDuel with this in the plus money.
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