With the NBA in the stretch run of the season, it’s a great time to look at some futures bets for the rest of the season. The teams are settling in, some teams are making a playoff push, and some teams are preparing for the draft lottery.
The stakes are high for the teams fighting for the playoffs. Let’s dive right in to make 2 winning NBA picks.
The Toronto Raptors are currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference. They are 32-34. The 11th-place team, the Chicago Bulls are 29-36. Looking at the standings and the way the teams are playing, I’m confident that the Toronto Raptors will make the Play-In tournament.
Currently, the Play-In tournament teams would be:
- Miami Heat
- Atlanta Hawks
- Toronto Raptors
- Washington Wizards
Of those four, the Washington Wizards are by far the weakest. It’s hard to see a scenario in which the Wizards win 2 Play-In games to make the playoffs. The Wizards have been inconsistent all season and do not match up well with the other 3 Play-In candidates.
So the Raptors would have to beat the Miami Heat or the Atlanta Hawks in order to qualify for the playoffs. Toronto matches up well against both of these teams. Toronto has the size, length, and great coaching to trouble the Hawks and the Heat.
The Toronto Raptors made an underrated move at the trade deadline when they acquired Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs. Poeltl gives the Raptors a true center and his defensive presence has made the team better. The Raptors are a more balanced team with Poeltl patrolling the middle.
The acquisition of Poeltl has pushed Gary Trent Jr. to the bench. This gives the Raptors bench more shot creation. With Gary Trent Jr. now in the role of the 6th man, it gives the Raptors a legitimate 3-point threat on the floor for all 48 minutes.
The Raptors also have Fred VanVleet in a contract year. VanVleet will be pushing to prove he is worth a huge contract in free agency. He has the ability for an offensive explosion at any time and is a good player on the defensive end. A motivated VanVleet helps the Raptors’ playoff chances immensely.
Is Toronto Better than Atlanta?
When placing this bet on the Raptors here, it means that you like the Toronto Raptors more than the Atlanta Hawks. While I can see good arguments for both sides, I do like Toronto more in the playoff situation.
Atlanta has a new coach, Quin Snyder, which could take a while to implement his schemes, while Toronto has been running the same scheme for years.
Toronto has more depth at the wing position and should be able to shut down Trae Young easier than the Hawks can shut down Pascal Siakam. And if the Raptors continue their push up the standings, they could have home court in this pivotal play-in and matchup.
At plus money, the Toronto Raptors to make the playoffs is a great bet. The first NBA future to bet right now is the Toronto Raptors to make the playoffs.
NBA Pick: Toronto Raptors to Make the Playoffs (+125) at Caesars Sportsbook
The inverse of this bet is to bet the Atlanta Hawks to miss the playoffs at plus 170. Obviously, these two bets are correlated. These teams will probably meet at some point during the Play-In tournament.
The Hawks are currently a half-game ahead of the Raptors in the standings at 32-33. Both teams will be fighting for that crucial home court, but if the Raptors play the Hawks in Toronto, they will have a huge advantage.
The Hawks have more star power, yet the Raptors are a more balanced team. If Nick Nurse can design a defense to stop Steph Curry as he did in the Finals, he can definitely stop Trae Young. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nurse play the same box and one defensive coverage that he used on Curry when the teams played in the NBA Finals.
Trae Young is a brilliant player and he might be the best player on the floor if these two teams were to face off. However, the Raptors depth would be the difference, as well as the likelihood that they will have home court advantage. The second NBA future to bet right now is the Atlanta Hawks to miss the playoffs at plus 170.
NBA Pick: Atlanta Hawks to Miss the Playoffs (+170) at Caesars Sportsbook