The 2020 NBA Playoffs semifinals start Thursday, August 27, with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference series between the third-seeded Boston Celtics and the second-seeded Toronto Raptors.
Over the last six years, the Celtics and Raptors have played the most playoff contests of all Eastern Conference teams. Still, they’ve never met each other thus far.
The reigning champs are listed as -140 favorites to win this series, but the Celtics are certainly capable of pulling an upset, so we expect to see a great battle for the place in the conference finals. Now, let’s take a closer look at Game 1.
The Celtics miss Gordon Hayward (ankle) and Javonte Green (knee). The Raptors cannot count on Patrick McCaw (knee), while Kyle Lowry is doubtful with an ankle sprain.
The Raptors are slight two-point favorites on BetAmerica at the moment. You can take the reigning champs at -120 moneyline odds, while the Celtics are +105 underdogs to win straight up. The totals are set at 216.5 points on Sugarhouse with both over and under at -110 odds.
What’s at Stake?
This should be a tight battle, and I would be surprised if we don’t see at least six games. Hereof, winning the opener shouldn’t mean much, but it’s always nice to start on a good foot.
Both Boston and Toronto completed sweeps in the previous round and looked sharp on the floor. The Celtics gave no chance to the Philadelphia 76ers, while the reigning champs dismantled the short-handed Brooklyn Nets.
These two Atlantic Division foes met each other four times this past regular season. The Celtics won the series 3-1 including a 122-100 victory in the bubble. Two of four games went in the over along with a push.
The Celtics thrashed off the Raptors on August 7, leading by as many as 40 points. They limited the reigning champions on 42.7% shooting from the field and 26.3% from downtown.
Jayson Tatum will be a key player for the Celtics in this series. He’s averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game against the Raptors this season, and Tatum will have a tough matchup with O.G. Anunoby.
Kemba Walker would be happy to see Kyle Lowry on the sidelines, but the Raptors certainly have enough defensive stoppers to deal with the Celtics’ backcourt. Toronto should have an advantage in the paint, so look after Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol.
Both teams are capable of playing tough defense, so I don’t expect to see a bunch of baskets in this series. The Raptors’ defensive rating of 105.0 points per 100 possessions is the second-best in the NBA, while the Celtics are fourth with 107.0 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Furthermore, the Raptors are second in opponent field goal percentage (42.8%) and first in opponent 3-point percentage (33.7%). The Celtics are fourth in opponent field goal percentage (44.1%) and third in opponent 3-point percentage (34.0%).
I’m looking for a tight opener, and whoever wins this game, I believe it will be decided by a few points. Therefore, I would take the Celtics as 5-point underdogs at -180 odds. If you want to take a risk, go with any team to win by six or fewer points.
The Celtics are 5-2 SU and ATS in their last seven encounters with the Raptors.
Betting on the under seems like a logical move, considering the Celtics and Raptors’ defense. Both teams are led by great coaches, and I expect to see a proper defensive battle. Hereof, you can buy a few points and take the under, but keep in mind that the over is 6-3-1 in the previous ten meetings between Boston and Toronto.