NBA Finals – Game 6

Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors, 11 am
Raptors +4

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors stole what was a bizarre game 5 with an incredibly gutsy performance. Steph Curry continued his excellent Finals series so far, adding 31 points to go with 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Klay Thompson also provided a much-needed scoring boost, adding 26 points and 6 boards of his own. Kevin Durant looked good in his 12 minutes of action, putting up 11 quick points before suffering a disastrous Achilles injury. Draymond Green continues to fill up the box score, again falling just 2 assists shy of a triple-double.

Toronto Raptors

Being up by 6 points with 2:30 to go at home to win the NBA title and then failing to close it out is a mega gut punch. The Raptors offence was less efficient in game 5, although Kawhi still led the way with 26 points, 12 boards, and 6 assists. Kyle Lowry was one of the better Raptors on the night, putting up 18 points and 6 assists, despite an atrocious game-winner attempt late on. Both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka continue to dominate on the interior, combining for 32 points and 14 boards.

Prediction: Raptors +4

In what I consider to be a coin-flip type of game, I think the value is on Toronto getting 4 points in this one. While I do think the fans will bring it for the last game at Oracle, the Raptors have been excellent on the road so far, winning a key road game in each series. Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the floor right now and I think Golden State will struggle to guard him, especially with KD’s injury. I also expect Toronto to shoot much better from deep in this one, having only managed 25% in game 5. This should be a tight affair that could go either way late, so I’ll happily take the security of 4 points with the Raptors.

Kawhi Leonard Over 29.5 Points

Even on a relatively off night by his lofty standards, Kawhi Leonard was still very good in game 5. He was getting anything he wanted offensively down the stretch and looked set to carry Toronto to a title before a curious timeout by Nick Nurse. Both Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson don’t appear to be at 100% after their injuries, also making Kawhi’s job on offence much easier. He has been consistent both at home and away throughout these playoffs and this series, going for 30+ in games 3 and 4 at Oracle. Especially if he gets 24 shots and 8 free throws again, I think a more efficient night takes him to 30 or more points.

NBA Finals – Game 5

Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors, 11 am
Raptors -3

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors picked up a hugely impressive sweep of the two games in Oracle with a dominant 2nd half in game 4. Kawhi Leonard was absolutely insane yet again, going for 36 points, 12 boards, and 4 steals. Serge Ibaka also provided some instant offence off the bench, going for 20 points in 22 minutes on 9/12 shooting. The rest of their starters have a ton of room for improvement, combining for 13/42 from the field. Their defence was also very stellar yet again, holding Golden State under 30% from 3.

Golden State Warriors

In what is looking like the last ever game at Oracle Arena, the Warriors just didn’t have what it took in game 3. Klay Thompson looked like the best Warrior in his return from injury, dropping 28 points on very efficient shooting. Steph Curry also added 27 points and 6 assists of his own, although he looked visibly gassed late due to his offensive load. Draymond Green continues to battle hard on the interior, falling just 1 rebound short of another triple-double. With the majority of the rotation injured already, Kevin Durant’s status for game 5 is still unknown at the time of writing.

Prediction: Raptors -3

The Raptors have taken full advantage of Golden State’s injuries, thoroughly outplaying them in the last 2 games. Even if Durant does return here, it’s hard to see him being back to his previous level after barely working out for the past month. Kawhi has been consistently the best player in this series and I expect another dominant display here as he claims the Finals MVP. Toronto knows this is their best chance to close this series out and as the more talented team, I think they should be laying more than 3 here. Golden State will definitely put up a strong fight, but I don’t see anything other than a Raptors win.

Raptors Team Total Over 107.5

A theme throughout this series so far has been the dominance of this Raptors offence against the Warriors defence. They’re seemingly getting very good looks on almost every possession, and doing a solid job converting them. A lot of Golden State’s injuries are to their best defenders and I can see them struggling to contain Toronto again in this one. If it’s even somewhat close late, I also expect the Warriors to play the foul game, which should artificially increase Toronto’s total.

NBA Finals – Game 4

Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors, 11 am
Raptors +5

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors just didn’t have the horses last time out and were beaten relatively comfortably by a strong Toronto side. Steph Curry did absolutely everything he could, going for 47 points, 8 boards, and 7 assists in the defeat. Draymond Green was also solid in a supporting role, adding 17 points, 7 boards, and 4 assists of his own. No other Warrior really showed up in this game, with DeMarcus Cousins’ 1/7 from the field standing out as particularly poor. In an injury update for game 4, Klay Thompson is set to play, while KD has been ruled out.

Toronto Raptors

Even against a banged-up Golden State side, the Raptors deserve a ton of credit for their dominant display last time out. Kawhi Leonard is beginning to look like the likely Finals MVP, going for 30 points, 7 boards, and 6 assists. Kyle Lowry was very solid in his secondary playmaker role, adding 23 points, 9 assists, and 4 boards of his own. The rest of the starters all chipped in very nicely, with Siakam, Gasol, and Green each scoring at least 17 points.

Prediction: Raptors +5

Given all the injuries Golden State are facing, I just don’t see how they can be 5-point favourites in this one. All 3 of their major wing players are dealing with some kind of injury issue, creating a huge matchup advantage for Kawhi Leonard. The Warriors bench has also been very lacklustre this series, with the likes of Andrew Bogut and Quinn Cook getting the majority of the run. Toronto are the deeper and more versatile side in this game and I expect them to at least keep it close, making them very strong value getting 5 points.

Raptors Moneyline $2.70

As the old saying goes, if you like the underdog against the spread, there’s no harm in putting something on the moneyline. I think the Raptors are a very live dog in this one and have every chance of taking this game. They’ll see this as a must-win game that could allow them to close the series out at home in game 5. The Warriors are far too reliant on Steph Curry and Toronto has done a solid job nullifying the other threats so far. If Klay Thompson is limited and the Raptors offence stays clicking, I think it’s very likely that they take this game.

NBA Finals – Game 3

Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors, 11 am
Raptors +5.5

Golden State Warriors

After a sluggish game 1, the Warriors rebounded with an incredibly gritty road win in game 2. Draymond Green delivered another well-rounded performance, going for 17 points, 10 boards, and 9 assists. Steph Curry battled a virus to anchor the offence again, scoring 23 points to go with 4 assists and 3 steals. Klay Thompson also had an excellent start to the game, going for 25 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists before getting injured late. Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins also deserve immense credit for battling through injuries to deliver clutch performances.

Toronto Raptors

With all that the Warriors were dealing with, game 2 has to feel like a missed opportunity for Toronto. Kawhi was the only Raptor who showed up offensively, bullying his way to 34 points and 14 boards. Fred VanVleet also provided his usual bench spark, adding 17 points in his 38 minutes of action. They’ll need much better from Kyle Lowry going forward, with the veteran PG going just 4/11 from the field before fouling out in 28 minutes.

Prediction: Raptors +5.5

With just how many injuries the Warriors are facing right now, 5.5 seems to be a bit too many points to be giving up here. Klay Thompson suffered a bad hamstring injury late on and we’re still unsure whether Kevin Durant will return in this one. Kevon Looney also suffered a rough collarbone injury, while Iguodala, Cousins, and Curry still don’t seem to be 100%. The Raptors should also be the more motivated team here after losing at home in very disappointing fashion. There could definitely be some value on the moneyline at $3, but I’ll take the +5.5 given the uncertain injury situation.

Pascal Siakam Under 19.5 Points

After getting this bet right in game 2, I’m going back to the well here in game 3. One Warrior that still appears to be 100% is Draymond Green, who thoroughly outplayed Siakam last time out. He guarded Siakam the majority of the night, forcing him to go just 5/18 from the field in a relatively poor offensive display. I expect Lowry and Gasol to see more of the ball in game 3, meaning less opportunities for Siakam and a lower points total.

NBA Finals – Game 2

Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors, 10 am
Draymond Green Over 12.5 Points

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors delivered an excellent performance in game 1, winning by 9 points and setting the stage for an exciting series. Pascal Siakam was particularly impressive, dropping 32 points on 14/17 shooting to go along with 8 boards and 5 assists. Despite an inefficient night from the field, Kawhi Leonard was also solid with 23 points, 8 boards, and 5 assists himself. Marc Gasol manned the interior nicely with 20 points and 7 boards, while Fred VanVleet continued his strong bench play with a further 15 points.

Golden State Warriors

While the long layoff likely contributed to it, game 1 was one of the worst Warriors performances I’ve seen in this era. Steph Curry was the only Warrior who could get anything going offensively, dropping 34 points to go along with 5 boards and 5 assists. Despite managing a triple-double, Draymond Green shot just 2/9 from the field and was bullied by Pascal Siakam on the other end. Klay Thompson also delivered 21 solid points, but Golden State likely need even more from him given their injuries. Kevin Durant is all but out for this one, although Iguodala looks set to play despite a rough looking hamstring injury.

Prediction: Draymond Green Over 12.5 Points

Although I do like the Warriors as +2.5-point underdogs here, the Iguodala injury has me steering clear of a spread play in this one. Even though he scored just 10 points, Draymond had the ball in his hands a ton in round 1. The Raptors are aggressively trapping Steph Curry, making Draymond the de facto playmaker on offence. He is getting plenty of wide open looks, especially from deep where he has been quite effective this postseason. I expect a much more confident Draymond in game 2, particularly on offence, where he should go for 13 or more points.

Pascal Siakam Under 19.5 Points

Tying in with my above point, I think a better Draymond performance in this one will limit Siakam’s offensive output. Siakam had a poor end to the series against Philly and largely struggled throughout the Conference Finals. Although his game 1 performance was unbelievable, I don’t think this is sustainable and that this line adjustment is just too much. I can’t see Golden State being much worse defensively than they were in game 1 and it starts with locking up Pascal Siakam.

NBA Finals – Game 1

Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors, Friday 11 am
Warriors +1

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors will host their first NBA Finals games in franchise history after an impressive conference semis win over Milwaukee. Their defence was excellent in the closeout game 6, holding Milwaukee to just 40% from the field and 34% from 3. Kawhi Leonard led the way offensively, going off for 27 points, 17 boards, and 7 assists. Kyle Lowry also chipped in nicely with 17 points, 8 assists, and 5 boards, while Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet combined for a further 32.

Golden State Warriors

Despite trailing heavily in each of the last 3 games, Golden State ultimately managed what turned out to be a very comfortable sweep. Stephen Curry was outstanding all series, capping it off with a 37-point triple-double in the closeout game 4. Draymond Green wasn’t far behind, dropping 18 points, 14 boards, 11 assists, and 3 steals. Kevon Looney also stepped up nicely off the bench, adding a quick-fire 14 points and 12 boards of his own. Kevin Durant has been officially ruled out for game 1, with Andre Iguodala set to play and DeMarcus Cousins questionable.

Prediction: Warriors +1

This is a tough one to call but the early money on Toronto has me leaning the other way. The Warriors enter this series very well rested, which should help tremendously given their injury woes. I can see Toronto struggling to score against this elite defence, especially if Kawhi is still feeling the effects of his injury. Steph Curry is also set for the best Finals of his career and he should be very motivated in this one. While I think it’s a 1-1 split through the first 2, Golden State look decent value to claim the opener as underdogs.

Over 213.5

One trend that has largely held up all season is backing the over in Warriors road games. They’ve consistently put up points on the road this season, with or without Kevin Durant. If Curry can keep up his excellent play from the Conference Finals, points shouldn’t be too hard to come by for the Warriors. Similarly, if these sides keep up their very fast pace, we should see a ton of opportunities for points.

2019 NBA Finals: Tips & Preview

8 months of exciting NBA action culminates in what is sure to be an eventful NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors are heavy $1.30 favourites in their 5th consecutive Finals appearance, while the Toronto Raptors are substantial $3.50 underdogs in their first Finals appearance. We’ll take a look at what you can expect to see over the next few weeks, providing our 2 best bets in the process.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors had another impressive regular season, managing 58 wins and the #2 seed despite Kawhi Leonard playing just 60 games. They’ve had a relatively difficult path to reaching the NBA Finals, overcoming every obstacle in their way. This started in round 1 of the playoffs, where they lost the first game at home, before winning 4 straight to claim the series convincingly. This was followed by an epic series with the 76ers that was one of the best Conference Semis in recent memory. Toronto overcame a 2-1 deficit without homecourt to seal the series in 7 on an incredible Kawhi buzzer beater.

This set up a rematch with the 60-win Bucks, who had the best record in the NBA. Despite going down 0-2, the Raptors figured things out and won the last 4 straight, bringing Canada their first NBA Finals games. Kawhi Leonard has been their main man throughout the playoffs, averaging 31.8 points, 8.8 boards, and 3.8 assists. Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry both also deserve a ton of credit, averaging a combined 33 points, 12 boards, and 9 assists.

Golden State Warriors

While no stranger to the NBA Finals, the Warriors made it comfortably this year despite facing a myriad of injuries. Despite a lacklustre regular season, they still managed to win 57 games and earn the #1 seed in a competitive Western Conference. This set up a meeting with the 48-win Clippers, who surprisingly pushed the reigning champs to 6 games. This led to a very intriguing Conference Semis matchup with Houston, which many believed to be the real NBA Finals. Even after injuries to DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant, Golden State pushed through to win in 6 tough games.

This set up a surprise Conference Finals with the Blazers, who were no answer for the Warriors en route to a sweep. Point Guard Stephen Curry has arguably been the MVP of the playoffs so far, averaging 27.3 points, 6.3 boards, and 5.6 assists. Draymond Green was also incredible in the Conference Finals, notching consecutive triple-doubles to seal the series. After averaging over 34 points through his first 11 playoff games, Kevin Durant remains out indefinitely.

Prediction: Warriors 4-2 $3.40

While the Warriors are deserved favourites entering this series the Raptors are very live underdogs at $3.50. I think this will be tighter than most people predict, especially given Golden State’s injuries. Instead of taking the Warriors at just $1.30, there is immense value on them closing it out in 6 at $3.40. They have the far superior top-end talent of these two sides, especially if Kevin Durant returns in time for game 3.

Stephen Curry looks in incredible form right now, while Kawhi appears to be battling a range of injuries. The Warriors have also got a notable experience edge at this stage of the playoffs, which is hugely important in the Finals. In what will be the last season at Oracle Arena, I expect them to be incredibly motivated to close this out at home. I think Toronto are too good to get swept, leaving a game 6 home win as the most likely close-out scenario.

Finals MVP: Stephen Curry $1.70

Despite putting up some great numbers in recent Finals runs, Steph Curry is still yet to get that elusive Finals MVP. He definitely deserved it in 2015 and had a 50/50 shot in 2018, yet the media still criticise him relentlessly for not claiming the award. Early indications are that KD will return around game 3, meaning Steph likely carries the load for most of the series. Especially given his impeccable form, I expect him to be incredibly motivated here and prove the doubters wrong. Draymond Green is a decent roughie at $5.50 if Golden State get up and Kawhi at $3.50 looks like the logical choice if the Raptors pull off an upset.

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 6

Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks, 10:30 am
Bucks +2.5

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors pulled off one of the best wins of this entire NBA season last time out, taking game 5 on the road in Milwaukee. Kawhi Leonard was brilliant yet again, leading the way with 35 points, 9 assists, and 7 boards. Pascal Siakam was strong in a supporting role, going for 14 points, 13 boards, and 3 blocks of his own. Fred VanVleet also had one of his best games of the playoffs, banging in 7 3-pointers off the bench.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have to be disappointed with their game 5 effort and now find themselves as surprise underdogs in this series. Giannis was solid but unspectacular in game 5, putting up solid numbers of 24 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists. Malcolm Brogdon also looked good in his return to the starting lineup, adding 18 points, 11 boards, and 6 assists of his own. While he did have 10 boards and 10 assists, Milwaukee will need more than just 6 points from Khris Middleton going forward.

Prediction: Bucks +2.5

Despite 3 consecutive losses, I still have a lot of faith in this Bucks team. Kawhi Leonard is still feeling the effects of his injury, while guys like Danny Green, Gasol, and Siakam have faded somewhat of late. Part of the Raptors success appears unsustainable as well and I can’t see VanVleet draining another 7 3 pointers in this one. This has been a historically dominant team all season and I think they’ve got what it takes to force a game 7. The $2.20 moneyline definitely looks tasty, but the +2.5 points acts as decent insurance.

First Half Over 104

Both games in Toronto this series got off to a very fast start before fading somewhat in the second half. Especially if the Bucks can start hitting their 3’s, I see a similar pattern emerging in this one. We’re getting a few points of line value on this number as well, with the full game total currently sitting at 213. As long as the relatively high pace during this series continues, I like the first half over with a relatively low total.

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 5

Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors, 10:30 am
Bucks -7

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks just weren’t at the races in game 4, fading late to ultimately lose by 18 points. This was despite a very impressive display from Khris Middleton, who led the way with 30 points, 7 assists, and 6 boards on 11/15 shooting. Giannis was also stellar, adding 25 points, 10 boards, and 5 assists of his own. They’ll need better production from the rest of their rotation, with Niko Mirotic the only other player to reach double figures.

Toronto Raptors

After a convincing sweep out West, the Raptors deserve some credit for at least giving us a competitive Conference Finals series. Kyle Lowry was especially solid in game 4, leading the way with 25 huge points, 6 assists, and 5 boards. Kawhi Leonard also valiantly fought against injury, adding 19 points and 7 boards of his own. The bench trio of Ibaka, Powell, and VanVleet stepped up massively, combining for 48 points and ultimately making the difference.

Prediction: Bucks -7

While game 4 was impressive from Toronto, the way they won it just doesn’t appear to be sustainable. I can’t see their support players keeping up this ridiculous shooting, while the only way is up for Milwaukee’s bench. Kawhi’s injury continues to loom as a concern as he looked visibly uncomfortable for most of game 4. Milwaukee haven’t lost 3 games in a row all season and with such high stakes I can’t see that trend changing here.

Bucks 1st Half -3.5

I can see this game very much mirroring game 2, where the Bucks got off to a resounding start at home. Despite the loss in game 4, they’ve typically been impeccable after a loss this season, going 19-5 ATS. They should be the hungrier and more motivated team in this matchup, which should manifest itself in a fast start. I’m expecting a wire-to-wire win for Milwaukee in this one and I like them in both the first half and full game markets.

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 4

Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks, 10:30 am
Bucks -2

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors managed to grind their way to a double-overtime victory in game 3, winning 118-112. Kawhi Leonard deserves an immense amount of credit for his performance, battling injury to play 52 minutes and drop 36 points. Pascal Siakam also finally broke out of his slump, dropping 21 points and 9 boards of his own in 51 minutes. Norman Powell provided an underrated X-Factor off the bench, pouring in a further 19 points as he looks to take the starting Shooting Guard job.

Milwaukee Bucks

While the Bucks could’ve essentially put the series to bed last time out, they’ll have to rebound quickly for a game 4. Giannis again put up some monster numbers of 23 points, 7 assists, and 4 blocks, although he only managed 12 points. George Hill was again fantastic off the bench, adding 24 points and 7 boards of his own on 7/9 shooting. Bucks fans will also be encouraged by the performance from Malcolm Brogdon, who had a solid 20-point outing of his own.

Prediction: Bucks -2

The Bucks have been absolutely dynamite after a loss this season, going 19-4 for the best mark in the NBA. They were also nowhere near their best in game 3, yet sill gave Toronto everything they could handle. Contrast that with a Raptors side who left absolutely everything on the court and now their best player is in doubt with injury. The Bucks have proven to be the better and deeper team in this series and I think they take an unassailable lead in this crucial game 4.

Under 216.5

Game 3 was so physically and mentally taxing on the players that I expect a much slower pace in this one. Toronto have particularly struggled to score all series, a trend which could be exacerbated if Kawhi isn’t 100%. Both sides have also been relatively poor shooting from deep in this series and I don’t see this reversing any time soon. Combine the fatigue, injuries, and strong perimeter defence of these two sides and I see a relatively low-scoring affair in this one.