The Toronto Raptors are seemingly impossible to figure out. That’s made them hard to predict in these NBA Playoffs. But it could also be their prime asset heading into Saturday’s Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series with the Miami Heat.
In some ways, it’s remarkable that Canada’s finest are level at 1-1 and with a shot at making the East Finals, even if the Heat are now marginal favourites to advance.
Kyle Lowry has only averaged 13.6 points in this post-season, a drop of 7.6 off his regular campaign average. DeMar DeRozan, his fellow All Star, has similarly regressed by 4.9.
All of which has caused the Raps offensive output to drop from 102.7 to 93.1 per night in the Playoffs. For a team that isn’t anything like the pass-heavy Warriors, it’s meant tough moments and harsh lessons.
But Toronto is still very much in this series and worth a look at 2.85 to go 2-1 up in South Florida – if they exploit the alternatives to their stumbling backcourt.
Jonas Valenciunas has come into his own in this series, capitalising on the absence of Chris Bosh to average 19.5 points and 13 rebounds in the two games to date. While DeMarre Carroll and Terrence Ross have shown an ability to fill the void when their stellar colleagues show a willingness to share the load.
Miami, turnover-prone, has significantly over-achieved so far. Their rivals are at the other extreme. To win out, it will require a grind. Neither have demonstrated enough to suggest the Cleveland Cavaliers – at 1.80 now to win the East – will be halted in the next round.
But with a potential Plan B or C if they so choose, don’t consider the Raptors ready for extinction just yet.
Best bet: Go under 193.5 total points at 2.80
Golden State takes a 2-0 lead into Game 3 of their series with the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday – and even with Steph Curry likely sitting out once more, it’s no shock the reigning champs are 1.59 to edge a step closer to a sweep.
But Portland, especially at home, have the ability to snatch one in this series, especially if Damian Lillard can come up bigger in the fourth quarter. At 2.55 even on a handicap of -1.5, it’s worth a look at the Blazers.
The San Antonio Spurs 100-96 Game 3 victory on Friday gives them the upper hand on the Oklahoma City Thunder. What chances OKC levelling at 2-2 on Sunday?
Ill-discipline from Russell Westbrook was critical and the Thunder need their playmaker to produce at both ends to resist the Spurs. And with homecourt in Game 4, look for Billy Donovan to use some extra size to shelter Kevin Durant and to try and disrupt the Spurs defense.
Best bet: Go over 200.5 total points in Thunder-Spurs at 2.10