Monday, August 31

Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics, 3:05 am
Raptors -2.5

I’m giving the edge to Toronto in this game and in the overall series.

Boston are already a rather thin side and I think the Gordon Hayward injury could loom large here.

Toronto has arguably the best 8-man rotation in the playoffs and I think they match up reasonably well with Boston.

One reason the Celtics have outperformed of late is that Brad Stevens is much better than most coaches he comes up against.

This won’t be the case here, as Nick Nurse is very much his equal in terms of coaching ability.

I think Kyle Lowry will be a key man in this series and the fact that he’s likely to go is encouraging for Toronto.

They’ve got an excellent starting five defensively, one which I think can trouble Boston’s perimeter players.

O.G Anunoby is arguably the best perimeter defender in the league at this point and I think he can contain Tatum reasonably well.

The Celtics are also quite weak on the interior, which doesn’t bode well against the solid Ibaka and Gasol duo.

Overall, I think the Raptors matchup advantages on defense win them this game and series, covering a modest 2.5-point spread in the process.

Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets, 10:35 am
Jazz -1.5

Update: I had Utah before the boycott and I still like them in this one. The extra days off should help their thin rotation rest up and also counteracts the Denver momentum from game 5.

I’ve been on Utah for most of this series and I’m banking on them to close this one out here.

Jamal Murray was excellent down the stretch in game 5, but I don’t think he can replicate that performance here.

I’ve mentioned throughout this series that I think Quin Snyder is the better of these two coaches. This tends to be particularly valuable after a loss and I’d expect him to come up with some good adjustments here.

Utah’s defense definitely waned in game 5 and a better effort here will make it that much tougher for Denver to score.

On the flipside, Denver’s defense continues to struggle and they’ve shown no answer for Donovan Mitchell all series.

Utah has the better of these two starting fives with Harris and Barton out and I think they take it to Denver early and often here.

With a modest line of just 1.5 points, this bet essentially comes down to who we think will win the game outright.

If Utah continue to get capable support from their role players, I like their chances here.