Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:30 PM EST.
PHOENIX -3 -107 over Toronto
9:05 PM EST. For years, the culture of continuity and competitiveness exhibited by Toronto was the envy of much of the NBA. A combination of loyalty, familiarity, and a feeling of disrespect propelled the Raptors to great heights, and even a championship when the team was able to acquire Kawhi Leonard to put them over the top. Toronto was never an easy place to come and play, and “We The North” really meant something. This was a team you couldn’t mess with. But, now, the North has been forced south, with the Raptors shacked up in Tampa due to the pandemic, and, well, nothing seems the same. The team moved on from veterans Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, and have looked out of sorts, particularly on the offensive end (28th in offensive rating). Toronto is 1-5 both straight up and against the spread, which would typically mean an opportunity to bet on a correction to the good, but this edition of the Raps is different. While the market trusts that correction, we do not and therefore we still get to fade the Raps with a short sold favorite.
After two seasons as the toast of the town, there are cracks in the Nick Nurse regime. He’s been agitated to no end on the sidelines throughout the season, and his negative energy seems to be permeating into the players, instead of motivating them. He’s taken pot shots at his guys on multiple occasions in the press, and even chose to bench Pascal Siakam to send a message. The supposed franchise player has hardly responded, and remains mired in one of the worst stretches of his career. Multiple members of the Raptors have admitted that moving to and playing in Tampa has been very difficult, and there must be a sense of doom amongst some of them, that there’s still months and months of this bizarre and frustrating setup to endure. Toronto is 1-5, and worryingly, have only played two playoff teams from last year so far.
After an embarrassing 126-114 meltdown against Boston on Monday (a game the Raptors led by as much as 13, before trailing by 21 before garbage time), Toronto has to fly clear across the country on a one-day turnaround to face a high-level opponent in the Phoenix Suns. Chris Paul’s new group will also have a rest advantage here, and will be eager to bounce back from a five-point loss to the Clippers (in Phoenix) on Sunday. The Suns, unlike the Raptors, have shown a ton of fight, even in the team’s two losses, which have come by a combined eight points. Phoenix trailed by as much as 31 against the Clippers before getting the game back to within three with a minute left. This is a brutal matchup and a brutal spot for a small pooch that is getting way too much market respect.
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PHOENIX -3 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)