The Raptors are one of the betting favorites to win the NBA title this season, but playoff failures have been an unfortunate hallmark of this franchise over the last handful of years. Toronto finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they suffered a setback by losing Game 1 at home at the hands of the Orlando Magic.
The Raptors bounced back with a stirring 29-point victory in Game 2, so the series is tied at a game apiece as the scene shifts down to Orlando for Game 3. Vegas still has the Raptors as 5.5-point favorites in this spot, though Orlando has quietly been one of the best defensive teams in the league this season.
The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:
2019 ATS Home
2019 ATS Away
2019 O/U Home
2019 O/U Away
Raptors Back on Track?
The Raptors have disappointed in the playoffs in each of the last 3 years, but the team was hopeful that trading for Kawhi Leonard last summer would help get them over the hump. Toronto looked like the best team in the league at times during the regular season, and Leonard’s health was managed so that he would be healthy and ready to roll in the postseason.
So far, so good for Kawhi. Leonard poured in a game-high 37 points in the Game 2 victory, and the Magic haven’t really had an answer for him defensively. Jonathan Isaac is probably Orlando’s best hope at limiting Leonard, but the second-year swingman lacks much experience. Leonard had no issue cooking him and the rest of the Magic defense in Game 2.
How the Magic adjust to Kawhi will obviously be key moving forward. The Raptors also got a strong showing from Kyle Lowry, who rebounded from a pathetic scoreless effort in Game 1 to score 22 points in the last outing.
The Raptors hang their hat on defense, and the defense swarmed Orlando from the jump in Game 2. Toronto held the Magic to just 37 percent shooting from the field in the last game, including 26.5 percent shooting from 3-point range. Most importantly, the Raptors have done a fine job limiting Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.
Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka have teamed up to limit Vucevic to averages of just 8.5 points and 7 rebounds through the first 2 games of the series, which is a far cry from Vuc’s averages of 20.8 points and 12 rebounds per game during the regular season. If Toronto can keep a lid on Vucevic, it’s hard not to like their chances at winning the series.
Can Orlando Pull the Upset?
It’s tough to imagine the Magic winning this series if Vucevic continues to struggle. Toronto has been tough defensively all season, and they fortified their interior defense by acquiring Gasol from the Grizzlies prior to the deadline. Still, Vucevic averaged 20 points and 15.5 rebounds per game across the 4 regular season meetings with Toronto, so we know he’s capable of contributing more than he has in the first 2 playoff games.
I do think Vucevic bounces back in a big way tonight. He shot just 3-14 in Game 1 before taking just 7 shots from the field in the Game 2 blowout loss. I’m expecting a more aggressive version of Vucevic tonight, which should cause plenty of problems for the Raptors.
If Vucevic doesn’t get it going, I have a hard time imagining Orlando sticking around in this series. Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross are decent offensive players, but neither is the type of player the team can rely on to carry them offensively over the course of a long series. That player has to be Vucevic, and so far we have not seen him anywhere.
The Raptors looked vulnerable in Game 1, but I think they regained confidence by blasting the Magic in Game 2. Game 3 isn’t nearly as important in terms of winning the series, but Toronto can steal back the home-court advantage by picking up a win here tonight. A win for the Magic would put the Raptors on the ropes, to be sure.
I like Toronto in this spot. While I think we do get more of a vintage showing from Vucevic, the Raptors’ 26-15 regular season road record was among the best in the league. They have routinely gone on the road and gotten results this season, and I doubt they’ll be all that intimidated by the Orlando crowd.
The 5½-point spread looks a bit small given the overall talent discrepancy between the teams, so I’d be betting on the Raptors to cover tonight. Toronto will take a 2-1 series lead Friday night in Florida.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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