The Raptors hold an overall record of 17-18, and they are 16-19 against the spread. This will be the second game of a back-to-back for Toronto, with last night’s game resulting in a loss to the Detroit Pistons.
The Celtics stand at 18-17 overall and 17-18 against the spread. Boston is coming off a close win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the opening Raptors-Celtics odds.
NBA Odds: Raptors-Celtics Odds
Boston Celtics -9 (-110)
Toronto Raptors +9 (-110)
Over 220.5 Points (-107)
Under 220.5 Points (-113)
Why The Celtics Could Cover The Spread
Toronto plays tonight with only a fraction of their starters available.
The Raptors will not have the services of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, or OG Anunoby, knocking out a combined average of 54.0 points per game and Toronto’s best perimeter defender.
This double whammy is especially deadly against a Celtics squad that has been solid defensively and boasts two elite perimeter scorers.
Boston has won three straight games, mostly thanks to two factors: Solid perimeter defense and the emergence of Kemba Walker.
The Celtics have held their opponent to 36.1% shooting from deep over their winning streak, right on par with their usual numbers. On the year, the C’s have given up the eight least three-pointers per game and held opponents to the seventh lowest three-point percentage in the league (36.0%).
Perimeter defense will be key tonight against a Raptors squad that shoots just over 40 threes a contest and connects on 38.2% of them.
Toronto gets 40% of their points from deep, the third highest figure in the league. If the Celtics continue to play solid perimeter defense, they should shut off the Raptors main source of points.
Offensively, Kemba Walker has been the man.
Walker has topped 20 points in each of his last four games. He had accomplished this feat only five times prior over the span of 15 games.
The Celtics thrive when their point guard gets buckets. Boston is 7-2 when Kemba scores 20+, and 2-8 when he plays but fails to hit that mark.
Considering Walker is in the best form we’ve seen all year, there’s a good chance he gets at least 18-20 tonight without Fred VanVleet hounding him.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should also be salivating over the chance to go at a Raptors defense without Anunoby terrorizing the perimeter.
Overall, this could be a prime position for the Boston three to get their offense cooking.
Why The Raptors Could Cover The Spread
While the Raptors will be missing key players, they still have some guys capable of stinging the Celtics.
Kyle Lowry is still a capable scorer averaging 18.1 points on 41% shooting from deep. We’ll see a healthy dose of Norman Powell tonight, who has been playing the best basketball of his career.
In the Raptors’ last two games, Powell is averaging a ridiculous 33 points on 67% shooting from the field and 56% from beyond the arc. The UCLA alum is taking full advantage of his extra minutes and is raising eyebrows across the league.
The Raptors will need all of his scoring punch tonight to get the upset. Between Lowry and Powell, the Raptors should look for somewhere around 50 points for them to make this a game.
The X-factor for Toronto tonight might be Chris Boucher.
The Celtics have been hurt all year by players with size and range. Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Jokic, Brandon Ingram, and Saddiq Bey have all stung the C’s for 30+ points in the last month. Boucher could be next on the list.
Defensively, the Raptors big man could have just as big of an impact.
Boucher is fifth in the league in blocks and averages 2.0 rejections per game while playing some excellent interior defense. Boucher’s strength is rotation blocks, and he’ll have plenty of chances to contest at the rim tonight with Toronto’s main perimeter defenders absent.
Boston is going to get to the rim a lot tonight, so Boucher will have his hands full.
Toronto has held opponents to only 45.4% from the floor all year, the seventh-lowest percentage in the NBA. If they can match that number without Siakam and Anunoby, perhaps the Raptors can surprise Boston.
Final Raptors-Celtics Prediction & Pick
The Celtics have played the Raptors twice this season and beat them by double-digits both times. On those occasions, the Raptors had all five of their starters. With three key guys out, I don’t see Toronto making this one any closer barring Lowry or Powell going nuclear. Boston should have a field day on the offensive end, and the Raptors just don’t have the personnel to keep up at the moment. I’ll take the Celtics by double digits in this spot.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: BOS 118, TOR 102 (BOS -9)