NBA-Friday night-Toronto attack Atlanta,Minnesota host the Warriors

Despite losing Kyle Lowry to a wrist injury right before the second-half of the season began, the Raptors have turned some heads with a 5-2 record without the All-Star point guard. The wins haven’t been exactly pretty but it’s hard to replace a player that is averaging 22.8 points per game and 6.9 assists.

During his seven-game absence, the Raptors are averaging 101.2 PPG but the defense has stepped up by only allowing 99 PPG. The ‘under’ has gone 5-2 and is 17-8 in the last 25 for Toronto.

The Raptors opened as short road underdogs (+1) on Friday versus Atlanta and this will be the third and final meeting between the pair this season. They met twice from Toronto in December and Atlanta earned a split as the Raptors earned a 40-point (128-84) win in the first matchup before the Hawks captured a 125-121 shootout victory in the second encounter.

If the postseason would begin tomorrow, these teams would meet in the first round with Toronto having the homecourt edge.

Fast forward to Friday and bettors could be hesitant to back the Hawks in this spot due to their recent form. The club has gone 3-5 since the All-Star break and is just 1-7 ATS with the lone win coming in a surprising effort at Boston (114-98) on Feb. 27.

At home, the Hawks have gone 2-4 during this span and the two victories came against teams with losing records (Nets, Mavericks). To be fair, the losses were against the top two teams in the league (Warriors, Cavaliers) while another was against the red-hot Heat and the fourth came on a buzzer beater to Indiana.

When you take all that into consideration, the line could seem a little off considering the Raptors gave much more in the earlier matchups (-7 ½, -8) at home. I understand that Lowry is ‘out’ but Atlanta’s form is very suspect yet they received a quick bump from pro bettors.

Perhaps the sharps are aware that the Hawks have played very well versus the Atlantic Division this season, going 10-3 SU and 6-7 ATS.  Meanwhile, Toronto is a pedestrian 7-5 versus the Southeast this season and it heads to Miami on Saturday for a back-to-back spot.

The total opened at 199 ½ and was pushed up to 201. As mentioned above, the Raptors have been a solid lean to the ‘under’ and Atlanta enters this game on an 8-2 run to the low side.

Road Favorites

Friday’s card is expected to have four teams laying points on the road. Opening numbers haven’t been posted yet for one of the matchups (Boston-Denver) due to injuries for the Nuggets (Jokic, Gallinari).

Even if those players go, I still don’t see Boston being listed as a road underdog in this matchup, especially after it upset Golden State on Thursday. If that’s the case, then I would respect the number and give Denver a second look.

Golden State (-5) at Minnesota: To no surprise, the Warriors have been favored in every road game this season and they’ve gone 26-8 SU and 14-19-1 ATS. They did just earn a win and cover at Atlanta on Mar. 6 yet they’re just 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS in their last six away. The Timberwolves are 0-2 versus Golden State this season but they usually receive double digits and that’s not the case on Friday.

Boston (TBA) at Denver: The Celtics have been one of the best bets as road favorites this season, going 14-4 SU and 13-5 ATS. Make a note that three of the losses came in their last six on the road and that includes a 109-106 setback at Phoenix on Mar. 5. The Nuggets have been terrible (2-7 SU, 3-6 ATS) as home ‘dogs and the ‘over’ has gone a perfect 9-0 in those games.

Houston (-4 ½) at Chicago: The Rockets have gone 14-8 SU and 12-10 ATS in this role. Based on those records, you can see that Houston received backdoor treatment versus the spread twice and both of those covers missed by a combined three points. So if you’re leaning Chicago in this matchup, a money-line should be warranted and confidence should be high with the Bulls going 7-3 as home ‘dogs this season.

Washington (-8) at Sacramento: Of the road favorites in action on Friday, the Wizards have the least experience in this role but they’ve managed to go 8-4. Unfortunately for some, they burned bettors with a 5-7 ATS record and this number (-10 ½) versus the Kings is quite healthy. Total bettors should note that the ‘over’ has gone 9-3 in these games. Sacramento is 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS as a home ‘dog since trading DeMarcus Cousins.

If the postseason began today, the Bucks and Mavericks would both be on the outside looking in. Fortunately, the pair has a little more than a quarter of a season left and they’re rolling right now on the hardwood and at the betting counter.

Milwaukee (30-33 SU, 27-36 ATS) closed the first-half of the season with a strong push and it’s starting to show more effort in the second-half. The Bucks have won and covered their last four and they’ve gone 8-3 in their last 11. Five of those wins did come at home but that includes victories over the Raptors and Clippers. The defense has improved during this 11-game span (101.5 PPG) and that’s helped the ’under’ go 8-3. Knowing that 11 of the final 16 games are on the road, the sense of urgency to win these home games has to be very high for Jason Kidd’s squad. The Pacers visit the Bradley Center on Friday and the Bucks have already handled them twice this season, fairly easily too (125-107, 116-100). Milwaukee has gone 8-4 versus Central opponents and that’s the best record amongst the five teams in that division.

Dallas (27-36 SU, 36-27 ATS) has been on fire, covering 16 of its last 22 games. The Mavericks enter Friday’s game versus Brooklyn on a six-game winning streak versus the spread and they won five of those games straight up. Dallas has gone 8-1 both SU and ATS as a home favorite this season and that includes Tuesday’s 122-111 win over Los Angeles. The Mavericks shot very well in that game and still covered (-9) the number despite a lackadaisical fourth quarter.

Friday’s matchup presents a similar opponent in Brooklyn that likes to chuck and you might wonder if this ATS luck will eventually come to an end. The Nets have covered two straight and four of their last six games since the All-Star break and the defense, for their standards, has been better the last two games (109.5 PPG). Dallas opened as a 9 ½-point home favorite and it’s expected to have backup point guard J.J. Barea back in the mix on Friday.

The Bulls have been the best ‘under’ bet in the NBA with a 40-24 mark and that includes a 19-13 record at the United Center. Chicago has watched the ‘under’ cash in four straight games entering Friday’s matchup, largely due to an offense averaging 92.3 PPG during this span.

Tom Thibodeau’s defense is starting to take shape lately with Minnesota holding five of its last six opponents under 100 points. The ‘under’ has gone 5-1 during this span.

Golden State owns the best ‘under’ record on the road this season, producing a 23-11 mark to the low side.

Charlotte has seen the ‘under’ go 18-12 at Time Warner Cable Arena this season and that includes a 5-0 run in its last five at home.

The Wizards have seen the ‘over’ cash in their last four games and the offense has been on fire during their most recent trip, scoring 131 and 123 in the previous two stops.

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