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NBA expert Adam Taylor is here with his prediction and picks for the 2021 NBA season home opener for the Boston Celtics as they take on the Toronto Raptors. He gives his prediction for that matchup and more across tonight's NBA action.

NBA Predictions and Best Bets: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors Picks and More

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors

When: Friday, October 22, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Spread: Celtics -6.5

Total: 218.5

Click Here For Celtics vs. Raptors Odds

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors Prediction

The Boston Celtics look to get onto the win column in the home opener.

Expect the TD garden to be rocking tonight as the Celtics get their home opener underway against Eastern Conference rivals, the Toronto Raptors. Despite the double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks earlier this week, the Celtics will feel confident of closing tonight's game out, especially as Jayson Tatum is unlikely to have another poor shooting night.

The Raptors come into this contest missing their best player in Pascal Siakam, who has been sidelined since June with a shoulder injury. To compound the Raptors issues, forward Yuta Watanabe is also likely to miss his second game in a row through illness. Sure, the Raptors can rely on OG Anunoby to give them solid minutes, and so can rookie Scottie Barnes. Still, with two of their forwards due to miss this game, the Celtics would be wise to stagger Jayson Tatum's and Jaylen Brown's minutes to take advantage of the reduced rotations Nick Nurse will be forced to play with.

Ime Udoka doesn't have such problems, with Josh Richardson likely to return after missing the Knicks game with a migraine. Al Horford starts the day listed as "Questionable" on the team's injury report. A significant swing factor heading into tonight's game will be the availability of Marcus Smart, who suffered a right knee effusion on Wednesday, and is "probable" to play tonight. Fred VanVleet is the Raptors' focal point on offense and will be paired with veteran guard Goran Dragic, meaning the Celtics will need Smart raring to go if they wish to nullify the threat of Toronto's back-court pairing.

Another aspect to watch will be the Celtics' defensive rotations. Ime Udoka has the team running a "switch everything" system that has caused some confusion throughout preseason and opening night. Coming up against master tactician Nick Nurse, the Celtics head coach, will have his commitment to this system thoroughly tested. If the Raptors find a way to exploit the Celtics defense successfully, then they're in with a fighting chance of snagging a victory.

Overall, the Celtics come into this contest with a deeper roster and all of their key players (except maybe Horford) available to play. While both teams will be looking to bring their record to 1-1, the Raptors face an uphill battle in the intimidating TD Garden.

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors Pick

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets Prediction

When: 7:30 p.m ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

76ers vs. Nets Odds

A clash of Eastern Conference titans, the Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers will always get pulses racing - especially since each team's strength is the others core weakness. In Joel Embiid, the 76ers have a "Nets buster" who will test their interior mettle throughout the contest, especially physicality and rim protection. Sure, the Nets can throw Nicolas Claxton or LaMarcus Aldridge at Embiid, but in truth, there's not much the Nets can do to stop the powerhouse having his way inside, or when rolling towards the rim,

Brooklyn does have their own superheroes, though. Kevin Durant is arguably the NBA's top talent right now and will hurt the 76ers from both the perimeter and the mid-range, and with Ben Simmons unlikely to feature in this contest, the 76ers will struggle to find the right personnel to slow down KD. Then there's James Harden, who has grown into a playmaking

savant, capable of destroying his opponents with either his shooting prowess or passing genius.

Here's where things get spicy. Embiid enters today as "Questionable" on the 76ers injury list, while the team will also be missing Simmons, Shake Milton, and Grant Riller. The Nets are only without Kyrie Irving and have the rest of their rotation to call upon.

With or without Embiid, the Nets should have too much for the 76ers, Simmons is the team's best perimeter defender, and his absence will hit them hard against a powerhouse such as Brooklyn.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets Pick

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction

When: 10:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

Lakers vs. Suns Odds

Five players are out for the Los Angeles Lakers' second game of the season, thankfully, none of them are part of their star core, but they are valuable role players off the bench. Trevor Ariza, Taylor Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington, and Kendrick Nunn are all ruled out for the Lakers' game against the Suns, leaving their rotation looking relatively thin – especially as Sekou Doumbouya is also questionable for the game.

The Suns enter the contest with a healthy rotation, with only Dario Saric missing from their rotation, and are coming off the back of a painful loss to the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers are still trying to figure out how to best implement Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony into their primary rotation. In addition, they are dealing with all the spacing issues that come along with it. At the same time, the Suns are a well-oiled unit that is always dangerous with their 0.5 scheme, which preaches speed and execution.

The Lakers have the star power, and with LeBron James hitting lights out from deep against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, it would be foolish to rule the Lakers out. However, the Suns will rely on Devin Booker for most of their offensive output, while Chris Paul will pull the strings from the point guard position down the middle; this will be a tough one for Deandre Ayton as he's tasked with guarding and scoring on Anthony Davis.

Despite the Suns' current standing as Western Conference champions and their aesthetically pleasing brand of basketball, the Lakers have too many weapons in their starting five. If the Lakers can make their new rotation (however shorthanded) click, then they will be too much for the Suns to handle.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns Pick

Other NBA Games

Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks

Orlando is in the midst of a rebuild and is likely to end the season with one of the worst records in the league. The Knicks are fresh off a playoff appearance and beating the Boston Celtics in their season opener, where Julius Randle looked like an All-NBA level talent. Tom Thibodeau has the Knicks playing a sturdy brand of basketball, where the team focuses on making the correct defensive play. Still, with the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, they now have the offensive power to see out tight contests. The Knicks should have no problem dispatching the Magic tonight.

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

A battle of Western Conference rebuilding teams, Nor the Houston Rockets or Thunder have a roster that screams contention, but both have some lovely pieces to build around long-term. This game is a potential banana skin from a betting standpoint as neither has a genuine edge over their opponent. Both teams are missing key players for tonight's game, making it even more difficult to predict. The Rockets might have the edge in scoring but fall short on defense. However, you can never be fully counted out when you have a wildcard such as Kevin Porter Jr on the roster along with floor stretcher Christian Wood. If you want to look at this game closer, consider opting for the Rockets in a close-fought contest.

Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz should have too much for the Sacramento Kings in tonight's match-up. Rudy Gobert is a nightmare to score against when he's in the drop, and Donovan Mitchell can go off whenever he chooses, and of course, the Jazz has done an incredible job in building out their supporting cast. The Kings, coming off the back of an opening night win, are still a work in progress. Sure, they have some high-ceiling young guys and have added veteran leadership with Tristan Thompson. However, their defensive issues still project to be an issue this year, and it's tough seeing them overcome a strong Jazz team, who should win this one by a comfortable margin.

Article Author


Adam has been covering the Boston Celtics since 2015 but has been an NBA fan since 1994. Never one to get too high, or too low, Adam likes to blend video and stats together for a clearer picture of the NBA game.


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