Raptors vs. Spurs – NBA Pick For October 23rd
NBA bettors are in for a treat on Monday night, as we get a strong 8-game slate, as well as numerous opportunities to win big.
We certainly want to chase the upside when we can get it, but considering the NBA season is such a grind, we also want the safe plays where we get a chance to come close to doubling the money we put in.
One such spot could come in Texas tonight, where the San Antonio Spurs host the Toronto Raptors. Vegas is only mildly backing the Spurs (-140 at Bovada) due to the continued absence of star forward Kawhi Leonard.
That’s fair, but the Spurs have looked good en route to a 2-0 start and will be working in the comfort of their home stadium tonight.
Should that have us taking the easy money at Bovada, or does a solid Raptors team give us nice value at +120 that we can’t pass up? Let’s break it down in Monday’s top NBA game:
This is a tight line for good reason, as Leonard obviously remains out and the Spurs are also sans star point guard, Tony Parker.
Things have worked out just fine for San Antonio thus far, though, as LaMarcus Aldridge has embraced an expanded role (averaging 26.5 points per game) and the rest of his teammates have helped out as needed.
The wins aren’t against world-beaters, as the Spurs down the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls through their first two contests. Still, Ridge is ablaze, the Spurs are 2-0 and this unit as a whole is chipping in the league’s .
San Antonio obviously has some weak points on paper, but they’ve actually gotten fantastic minutes out of young point guard Dejounte Murray and still get help from the likes of Danny Green, Patty Mills, Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili.
There’s no denying the Spurs aren’t as safe as they would be with defensive ace and potential MVP Kawhi Leonard leading the charge, but they figure to be a formidable out at their home base.
The Spurs have always been three things under head coach Gregg Popovich; competitive, solid defensively and tough at home. We saw that a year ago, as the Spurs raced to the second-best record in the NBA, went 31-10 at the AT&T Center and ranked #1 in defensive efficiency.
The only thing that’s changed? Leonard and Parker aren’t on the floor at the moment.
As much as we want to just nod away with the Spurs being the easy pick, we do need to pay some mind to the visiting Raptors. Toronto is also 2-0 after beating the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, while they’re displayed elite offensive efficiency (6th in the league) and have been stellar defensively (8th), as well.
Toronto will be down one key cog headed into Monday’s road tilt, however, as star center Jonas Valanciunas won’t suit up against the Spurs:
Valanciunas says he’s hoping to play on this road trip. He’s w/ the team, rehabbing. No timetable though. Again, he’s hopeful.
— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith)
Valanciunas is joining the team on their current road trip, but won’t be available tonight and may miss a few games.
That certainly hurts the Raptors down low, as Valanciunas can score easily around the basket and has even stretched his jumper out to three-point land. His absence could also hurt the team’s rebounding, shot-blocking and overall defense.
One possibility is power forward Serge Ibaka spending more time running out of the center position, but against San Antonio’s size, it’s debatable whether or not that will go well.
The Raptors are otherwise at full strength, but in a clash between two teams that love to control the pace and defend, it’s easy to see the veteran Spurs winning out on their home floor.
That’s certainly been the case historically in this series, as the Spurs swept the season series last year and have won three straight games in this matchup. This series has not been kind to the Raptors in general, with the Spurs ripping off wins in 11 of the last 13 showdowns.
The trip to Texas has been especially rough for the Raptors, who have won in San Antonio exactly four times and haven’t done so since the 2007-08 season.
It’s arguable neither of these teams have faced a truly stiff test yet, but of the two, the Spurs probably had the toughest assignment in their opener against Minnesota. Both teams are down a key player, as well, but all things considered, the arrow seems to be pointing to the home team.