Washington (43-39) at Toronto (59-23)
When: Saturday, April 14th 2018
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Time: 5:35 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Toronto -7.5/206.5
The Toronto Raptors have been bumped out of the NBA Playoffs in each of the last three seasons, including a four-game sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers a year ago, but now feel they are the team to beat in the East. The Raptors will open the 2018 NBA postseason as the No. 1 seed and take on the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of the first round on Saturday night. The Raptors battled all year with the Cavaliers and Boston Celtics for the top seed, and played more consistently than those foes throughout the course of the season. They set a franchise record for wins during the regular season (59) and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in team history. Toronto was swept in the first round by the Wizards in 2015 but is a different team now with only three players remaining from that squad. Washington is a different team as well and is just looking to steal one game in Toronto if they want to pull the upset in this series. The Wizards did not play well down the stretch, losing six of their last eight, including four of those losses to non-playoff teams, while the Raptors won four of their last five. The teams split four meetings in the regular season, though Wizards point guard John Wall missed all four matchups.
Washington’s late season stumble extended beyond the last eight games, as they also dropped nine of the last 12 to fall from contention for a top-four seed all the way down to eighth in the East. Wall missed over two months with a knee injury before returning on March 31st and he averaged 28.5 points and 13.5 rebounds over his last two games. Fellow guard Bradley Beal played all 82 games for the first time in his career and led the team with a 22.6 scoring average, down from his career-high of 23.1 last season. His three-point shooting was the lowest of his six-year career, but the Wizards still managed to finish fourth in the NBA in that category (37.5). Shooting guard Jodie Meeks, who played in 77 games this season, will miss the postseason after being handed a 25-game suspension for a violation of the NBA/NBPA anti-drug program on Friday.
The one thing that has not helped the Raptors in the past, is their inability to jump out to a series lead. They are seeking their first Game 1 win in franchise history on Saturday, and will come in as eight-point favorites. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who combined with fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan, went 9-of-32 from the field in a Game 1 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last spring. The Raptors were one of two teams (Houston) that finished in the top seven in both scoring offense (111.7) and defense (103.9). If any game comes down hitting free throws in the end, Toronto is fine in that category as well (79.4% – 4th). Lowry’s scoring average went down six points from a year ago, but ended the season with a 28-point effort against Miami.
Nobody thinks the Raptors can get over the hump and past the second round, which puts a chip on the players’ shoulders for extra motivation. This Toronto team is the best they’ve ever had and the bench is deep. They should have no problem winning this series and they will come out focused in this Game 1 and roll.
Pick: Raptors -8
- Wizards are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Saturday games.
- Wizards are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss.
- Wizards are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Wizards are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 Conference Quarterfinals games.
- Wizards are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
- Wizards are 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Wizards are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Wizards are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Wizards are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- Raptors are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Raptors are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Raptors are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Saturday games.
- Raptors are 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 home games.
- Raptors are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 Conference Quarterfinals games.
- Raptors are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southeast.
- Raptors are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
- Raptors are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Raptors are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Raptors are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss.
- Raptors are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Raptors are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games following a ATS loss.
- Raptors are 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Over is 4-1 in Wizards last 5 games following a ATS loss.
- Over is 9-3 in Wizards last 12 vs. NBA Atlantic.
- Over is 6-2-1 in Wizards last 9 Conference Quarterfinals games.
- Under is 8-3 in Wizards last 11 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Over is 5-2 in Wizards last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 5-2-1 in Wizards last 8 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Over is 36-17 in Wizards last 53 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Over is 5-1 in Raptors last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Under is 10-3 in Raptors last 13 Conference Quarterfinals games.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Raptors last 5 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Under is 5-2 in Raptors last 7 vs. NBA Southeast.
- Under is 12-2 in the last 14 meetings in Toronto.
- Wizards are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings in Toronto.
- Under is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings.
- Road team is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings.