NBA Predictions and Best Bets: Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic and More
When: Friday, October 29, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: NBA League Pass
Spread: Raptors -8
Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic Prediction
As far as statistical quirks go, the one the Raptors have started off the season with is about as strange as they come.
In a league where teams increasingly live and die by the three, Toronto has increased both their number of 3-point makes and their 3-point accuracy with each passing game, going from 7 made threes in the opener to 10 to 11 to 12 to 14 in their last game. Their jump from hitting 20.6 percent of long-range attempts in their opener to 46.7 percent in Wednesday’s win over Indiana is quite an improvement. It indicates a ceiling for this team that many observers doubted before the season started.
The fact that they’ve made this improvement without arguably their best player, former All-NBA 2nd Team forward Pascal Siakam, is a testament to their depth and organizational stability. Siakam is still out, but against the Orlando Magic, it may not matter. The Magic have one victory on their season: a six-point win against a Knicks team that came out without their usual energy after a 25-point win over the same Magic team two nights earlier. Their other losses besides that blowout to New York: a 26-point loss to San Antonio, a 17-point loss in Miami, and a nine-point home loss to Charlotte.
Add it all up, and the Magic have a bottom-three net rating and a bottom-six differential against the spread. The Raptors, meanwhile, have the fifth-best spread differential and the 12th best point differential in the NBA despite a 2-3 record.
Toronto is a little thin without Siakam, but they’re also young, and they haven’t played in a few days. Orlando is shaping up to be a team worth fading all season. The spread here is low enough to make you comfortable.
Raptors vs. Magic Pick
- Raptors -8 (-105)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
When: 10:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: NBA League Pass
Lakers vs. Cavaliers Odds
Speaking of spread differential, the second-best mark in the league – 8.9 points better than Vegas expectations, on average – are your Cavaliers of Cleveland.
How are they doing it? With an offense that’s just decent enough and a defense that is (dare I say?) actually pretty good. Cleveland has won and covered three straight against the very respectable Hawks, Nuggets, and Clippers, the last two of which have been on the road. The key for them has been the free throw line: They’re getting there a ton (3rd highest rate in the NBA) and keeping opponents off of it better than any team in the league.
Now they remain in LA to face a Laker team that is bottom five at keeping opponents off the line and bottom ten at getting there themselves. Not that the presumed Western Conference champs are doing much of anything well, with a 20th ranked point differential and the fourth-worst differential against the spread in the NBA. It turns out, betters see the shiny gold and purple and think things will automatically turn out great (see: my take on this team from two days ago).
What’s the real issue in LA? It isn’t their shooting – they’re currently 6th in the league in effective field goal percentage – or even the shots that they’re taking (11th in location effective field goal percentage via Cleaning the Glass, which measures how likely a shot is to go in based on where it comes from). The problem is actually quite specific: the Lakers have a negative 42.7 net rating in 3rd quarters this season, which is so bad it seems like a misprint.
The Cavs, meanwhile, have been the 5th best 3rd quarter team. In other words, regardless of what happens in the first half tonight, this will very much still be a game.
This line seems to assume that LeBron James will play, and there is, in fact, optimism he’ll get on the court. Even so, LA has covered once in five games, and that was an overtime affair against the Spurs.
Something isn’t right with this team, and while they may right the ship against Cleveland, the Cavs have played too well to simply write them off at this point because “it’s Cleveland.” Go with the road team.
Lakers vs. Cavaliers Pick
- Cavaliers +7 (-105)