Welcome to the Thursday, May 30 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for Game 1 of the NBA Finals matchup between Golden State and Toronto I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Regular-season series results:
- Nov. 29: Raptors 131, Warriors 128 (OT) (Scotiabank Arena)
- Dec. 12: Raptors 113, Warriors 93 (Oracle Arena)
5/30/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Golden State Warriors (57-25 reg. season, 12-4 postseason) vs. Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 12-6 postseason)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 213.5)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 213.5)
888 Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 213.5)
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 213.5)
The Warriors will reportedly not get Kevin Durant (calf) back until “later” in the NBA Finals, meaning they will enter Game 1 without the two-time reigning Finals MVP. DeMarcus Cousins (quad) is going through drills and may be available for Game 1, but is admittedly out of shape and might not be much of a factor if active.
This is the Warriors’ fifth straight Finals appearance, but for the first time, they won’t have home court advantage. While they were able to rattle the choking Rockets in the Conference Semifinals and overwhelm the young Blazers in a comeback-filled WCF, the Dubs should not be considered favorites on the road.
The top of the Eastern Conference is now just as strong as the top of the West, and Toronto is battle tested. The Raptors have several playoff veterans leading the way. Their poise in three of their four wins over Milwaukee (excluding the blowout) was impressive.
Steph Curry will have to continue his transcendent play for the Warriors to have any shot at pulling out a win in Toronto. He averaged a career-high 36.5 PPG in the sweep of Portland, which is the highest average ever for a single player in a four-game sweep.
Curry dominated against a Blazers team that yielded the most PPG (22.07) to PGs this season, but the Raptors ranked fifth in DvP against PGs on the year. Toronto also ranked fifth in overall defensive rating and eighth in opponent 3-point shooting (.345) this year.
Still, it’s tough to put too much stock in the Raptors’ early-season wins over the Warriors. Curry and Draymond Green didn’t play in a 131-128 OT loss at Toronto in November. Kawhi Leonard didn’t play in the rematch two weeks later, but the Raptors rolled to a 20-point win against a bored Warriors squad.
Yet it’s worth noting the Warriors shot a rough 17-for-56 (.304) from three, and the “Splash Brothers” were 5-for-22 (.227) from downtown in those meetings. Then, Green struggled with 2 points and 4 TOs in the second meeting loss to the Raptors. Of course, he’s playing at a much higher level now.
Andre Iguodala will have the benefit of increased rest for his ailing calf and will likely be tasked as the primary defender on Leonard. Klay Thompson is also capable of checking Leonard at times, but there are few answers for the ECF MVP with Durant out.
Perhaps more importantly, Durant won’t be available to challenge Leonard on the other end. When Curry didn’t play on Nov. 29, Durant scored 51 points with a 36.6% usage rate to carry the Warriors in an OT loss. With KD out, Leonard will be able to roam defensively and help off Iguodala or Green.
The Raptors continually came up clutch against the Bucks. Their ability to get key defensive stops swung the series and allowed them to climb out of a 17-point hole and eliminate Milwaukee last Saturday night.
Toronto went 32-9 at home with a +7.5 PPG differential at home this year. The Raptors have won seven of their last eight playoff games at home and covered the spread in all of them.
Adding Marc Gasol at the trade deadline didn’t seem to change the Raptors’ fortunes immediately, but the playoff veteran has been huge in their last two series. While his offense comes and goes, Gasol is the quarterback of an excellent defense and a great passer. He averaged 7.5 APG in two games against the Warriors when he was still a member of the Grizzlies this year.
Then, Serge Ibaka has twice burned the Warriors for 20 points this year and also brings playoff acumen in a reserve role. He’ll continue to play behind Pascal Siakam, who has the requisite length necessary to score over Draymond and incredible versatility as a defender.
Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet profile as clutch players, and both provided cold-blooded performances off the bench against Milwaukee. VanVleet could be tasked with guarding Curry for long stretches in this series since Kyle Lowry hasn’t had too much success in that matchup.
The Final Word
The Warriors (+1.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook) opened as modest favorites, but sharps bet big money on the Raptors and slowly forced the line towards Toronto.
Still, every factor seems to indicate the Raptors will win a seventh straight playoff game at Scotiabank Arena and we’re not hesitating to fire a healthy bet on Toronto (-1.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook) even with the very slight spread.
The Warriors should have a tough time regaining their rhythm after a long layoff. According to the folks at Action Network, teams with four-plus days of rest have gone 59-95-1 against the spread (ATS) since 2005.
The Raptors will also be playing on four-plus days of rest, and home teams are 83-47 (63.8%) ATS since 2005 when both teams are well-rested.
Steve Kerr is far more capable of making in-game adjustments than Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer, but the Warriors’ depth should finally be exposed in a matchup against a truly capable opponent. Nick Nurse simply has more options. And he was savvy in altering his rotations in the ECF, as VanVleet proved far more productive than Danny Green.
The Under (213.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook) is also a strong bet at Scotiabank.
Toronto’s playoff games have gone Under the total 12 of 18 times, and often well under too. That’s forced the point total down from where it opened at 215 points, but it’s still higher than the expectation in a Raptors home playoff game.
The Lean: Raptors -1.5
The Pick: Under 213.5