Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors – 00:00 at Air Canada Centre
The Cleveland Cavaliers needed to dig down deep to see off the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals last May, but their recent record in Canada is not great. They might have won in Game 6 on the road in Toronto, but previously had failed to win or cover in four straight visits north of the border.
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Both teams opened the new season with dominating wins, but this is a big game for both to set a marker for the season. My feeling is that it means more to the Raptors to show they can compete with Cleveland this time around, but I have to say it is tough to oppose the Cavaliers when you see how loose they looked on Tuesday now the pressure of bringing a title home is no longer on them.
Even with that in mind, I can just see the Toronto Raptors wanting this one more than Cleveland and that can make all the difference in these tight games. There is no doubt in my mind that Cleveland will beat Toronto if they play again in the Play Offs, but this isn’t that time of the season and the Cavaliers will head into a hostile environment and might not want to dig as deep as Toronto will.
The Raptors are 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games against Cleveland and all of those times they have covered the spread has also seen Toronto win straight up. They are playing with more desire having been humiliatingly beaten by Cleveland in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at home and I like the Raptors to give it their all to win this one and will take the points on offer.
Handicap Betting Pick: Toronto Raptors +2.5 Points at 1.96 with Unibet
Indiana Pacers @ Brooklyn Nets – 00:30 at The Barclays Center
A couple of days ago I backed the Brooklyn Nets to cover with a lot of points on the road at the Boston Celtics because I felt the latter might be looking ahead to their big game with the Chicago Bulls. The Nets play their home opener in an identical position as their opponents, the Indiana Pacers, will be visiting the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
However, this time I think the Indiana Pacers can pull away for the cover on the road against the pretty average Brooklyn Nets.
Even though the Nets did come back to cover on Wednesday, they were actually down by 23 points in the Fourth Quarter and made use of the double digit points they received from the layers. The Pacers did need Overtime a couple of days ago to see off the Dallas Mavericks, but this is a team that looks to have made the right moves in the off-season to be a genuine contender in the Eastern Conference having missed the Play Offs last season.
Brooklyn are focusing on becoming a three point shooting team and that will make them dangerous whenever they are in receipt of a lot of points. This might not be enough though and Indiana have a 10-4 record against the spread here. I think the Pacers are a team looking to build some chemistry and so should be focused to prove they can work up the standings this season with a double digit win over one of the poorer teams in the NBA.
Handicap Betting Pick: Indiana Pacers -6.5 Points at 1.95 with Pinnacle
Orlando Magic @ Detroit Pistons – 00:30 at The Palace
Both the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons would have been disappointed in the effort made in opening game losses and both will be looking to bounce back effectively on Friday. The Pistons have been set as the favourite, but I think Orlando Magic can make the points count.
Reggie Jackson is out for the Pistons which means they are running their Offense through Ishe Smith and Beno Udrih who both had some issues with their shot in the blow-out loss in Toronto. There also will be some concern about Andre Drummond and his health having seen him come out early in the last game and now in concussion protocol ahead of this one.
That is going to be a key for Detroit who frustrated Head Coach Stan Van Gundy by being dominated on the glass. It will be a problem again on Friday with Orlando bringing in players like Bismack Biyombo who will make his season debut here and give the Magic more of a presence in the paint. Serge Ibaka is another who can pound the glass and Nikola Vucevic is yet another big man who can give Detroit a lot of problems especially if Drummond is limited.
Orlando will be looking for improvements of their own having been upset by the Miami Heat at home but this looks a chance to match up better against the Pistons who have won and covered in the last six in the series between these teams. However the problems Detroit have had Offensively coupled with Orlando perhaps dominating the boards and earning second chance points could make the points being given to the Magic the key to the game.
Handicap Betting Pick: Orlando Magic +4 Points at 1.97 with 188Bet
Prices correct at time of writing.