Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors will look to stay undefeated in the bubble as they take on the Boston Celtics. Photo from @TheNBACentral (Twitter).
- Raptors seeking to clinch second seed in East with win over Celtics
- Boston trying to work Kemba Walker back to health and big minutes
- See the odds, our analysis and best bets for the game below
At this point, aside from the race for eighth in the West, the second most interesting thing in the NBA bubble is watching whatever gets thrown at the surging Toronto Raptors, and see how they overcome it.
Friday night, it will be the Boston Celtics (45-23, 3rd in East), trying to stop the Raps (49-18, 2nd in East) from locking down the 2-seed in the East. As you might expect in the Celtics vs Raptors odds, it’s the champs getting their due respect.
Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors Odds
|Team||Odds at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Boston Celtics||+3 (-110)||+130||O 218.5 (-110)|
|Toronto Raptors||-3 (-110)||-154||U 218.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Aug 7. Tip-off is 9:10pm ET
The Celtics are one of four teams in the league that have beaten the Raptors twice this season, and they’re trying figuring things out as Kemba Walker works his way back to full health. There’s no slowdown in Toronto’s system. They’re relentless, and seeking their league-best eighth straight win. Who should you be wagering on in this one?
Toronto Keeps Producing
Dear Toronto broadcasters: can we put the Raptors’ “Little Engine that Could” schtick to bed now? This team is not an underdog, runs legit 10-deep, and while they don’t have one solo superstar as the lead singer of the band anymore, they have a diverse and talented orchestra making mad music.
STOP DISRESPECTING THE TORONTO RAPTORS
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) August 3, 2020
All players and teams respect the Raps. Maybe not oddsmakers, but consider it a gift for giving you these Toronto title odds. Toronto possess the third best record in basketball, and have no less than seven players that can work as the go-to guy depending on the matchup and where the ball whips to off rotations.
Lakers go with a LeBron post up early, watch the Raptors defense. Keeping OG on him 1v1. Lakers get their post spacing with shooters and McGee high. Davis cuts and notice the weakside aware but solid. Nice tag from Gasol and the recovery to McGee. Ends up in a missed shot. pic.twitter.com/drOzyjScr4
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) August 2, 2020
Where they’re making a stand since the restart is on the defensive end. While it is a small sample size, Toronto is the only team in the bubble to surrender less than 100 points per game (98.0), and the only team to hold the opponents to under 40% shooting.
With a four-month layoff in between games, Toronto’s continuity shines through. Even when games look sloppy, like against the Lakers, their defense stayed crisp, and their offense generated points out of well-worn sets.
.@FredVanVleet layup package is elite pic.twitter.com/bSjM3aGZ0d
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 3, 2020
While Kyle Lowry shined against LA, the last two games have been Fred VanVleet front and centre. After a career-high 36 points in a win over the Heat, FVV didn’t skip a beat against Orlando, going for 21 points and 11 assists.
Celtics Seeking Consistency
Here’s what we know about the Celtics since the restart: they can fill it up. In four bubble games, they are second in the NBA in scoring at 123.8 points per game, shooting it at a blistering 48.7% from the field, and 42.4% from deep. But they’re also giving up better than 117 points a contest and allowing teams to shoot 47.1% from the field, which is why they’re just a modest 2-2 since the restart.
Kemba Walker clutch 3! #Celtics pic.twitter.com/7QDlkhZyMd
— Overtime Heroics (@OT_Heroics) August 5, 2020
A sore left knee has the Celtics managing the workload of Kemba Walker. He’s raised his minutes per game from 19+ in the opener against Milwaukee to better than 26 minutes against the Heat, before sitting in their latest game, a 149-115 beatdown of the Brooklyn Nets.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the best young duo in the NBA ☘️ pic.twitter.com/LsV4QsDBDo
— Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck) August 4, 2020
While Marcus Smart will do anything needed on the floor, Boston’s fate will likely rest on young wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Brown has scored better than 20 points in three of the four games in Orlando, including a 30-point outburst against Portland. Tatum had a forgettable 5-point outing in their opening loss to the Bucks, but he’s gone for 19 or better in every game since, including a nice 34-point , 8-assist gem against the Blazers, nailing five threes.
Who’s the Best Bet?
Boston’s success against Toronto comes from their athletic perimeter players who can create their own shots on offense, while being able to matchup with Toronto’s best players in size and length.
But the Raptors are flexing the league’s best defense, and should be able to handle the Celtics better than earlier in the year. At this point, you should expect a star performance from another player not named Fred or Kyle. We’ve yet to really hear from Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol or Norm Powell.
The pick: Raptors -3 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.