NBA

NBA Betting: Will the real Raptors stand-up against Orlando’s magic?

April 19, 2019January 6th, 2022

WILL the real Toronto Raptors stand up? Will they reveal themselves and cast a shroud of mystery aside that has baffled and confused the whole NBA for the past five years? It really is about time.

Even a switch of head coach and change of leading star has not quite delivered the definitive identity for the Dinos that it was supposed to unmask. Terrific, yet maddeningly terrible at crucial times, the cruel streak of fragile DNA remains deeply embedded and is a source of self-destructive menace.

As evidenced – again! – in these NBA Playoffs in the initial two contests of the first round series with the Orlando Magic. The duel resumes on Friday with the supposed whale and the presumed minnow tied at 1-1.

The fractional gap between contender and chump was shown in the Magic’s Game 1 victory when the Raps execution proved extinct. And again, in Game 2 when Canada’s finest had all the swagger of a potential champion in a 111-83 rout that displayed all the traits envisaged when Masai Uriji blew up the building last summer and reconstructed again.

Defensively, foremost, with Orlando centre Nik Vucevic averaging only 8.5 points in the series in the face of Spain’s twin towers Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. The former’s arrival is a key reason why the Raptors had the look of a dark horse for the title (they remain a tempting 3.75 for the Eastern Conference crown). Everyone, seemingly, can score big. Few, especially in the post-season, have the ability to really shut the door.

In the Raptors ying and yang, the enigma has again been Kyle Lowry, scorer of zero points (say that out loud for effect) in the series starter and 22 in the win. The constant presence during their stretch of almost-but-not-quite campaigns, the All Star simply can’t afford another early exit. Imagine the fingers of blame. No actually, think about the neon arrows of culpability pointing his way.

As for Nick Nurse, this is proving time. I watched him excel time and again during his early runs as a coach in the British Basketball League when he meshed talent with schemes. No-one, though, ever foresaw he would reach these astonishing heights. Bravo. But this is the big time and he still needs to offer evidence that he belongs at the very apex.

Toronto is 2.85 to take a 2-1 advantage on a handicap of -10 and if regular season form holds, that should be a reachable goal. Yet these are the Raptors. Nothing is impossible, even if we don’t know how or why it might occur.

Best bet: Go under 207 total points in Game 3 of Orlando-Toronto at 2.25.

 

Sunday: Bogut can be the Dubs Totem

No Boogie but the Golden State Warriors are dancing a little freer after a Game 3 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that puts the champs 2-1 up, heading into Sunday’s Game 4.

Kevin Durant’s 38 points stood out. As he should do. The All-World forward can still sometimes appear overlooked even when providing amazement in front of our eyes.

The probable loss of DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the season has not dented confidence in the Dubs who remain 1.55 for a successful defence and who are 1.22 to take a 3-1 lead back to Oakland.

Much of that can be put on the trust in Andrew Bogut who had 14 rebounds in midweek in his improbable quest to win two titles in two different countries within three months. The Aussie may be the most important player for his new/old team now.

And his defensive ability makes it worth taking the Warriors at -12 on Sunday while looking again over 130 total points, as their race to live up to the hype continues.