Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Prediction: Who Wins the Battle Between Eastern Conference Frontrunners Tonight?

Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors prediction and pick for Monday night's game. Handicapper Jonathan Macri breaks down the Celtics vs. Raptors, plus Knicks vs Bulls, in his best picks for Monday's NBA slate.
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Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Prediction: Who Wins the Battle Between Eastern Conference Frontrunners Tonight?

  • When: 7:30 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: League Pass

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Raptors vs. Celtics Line Movement

Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Prediction

The Toronto Raptors should be considered among the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Scalding hot take? Perhaps. In a conference that features the pairings of Joel Embiid and James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, the defending world champs, and a Miami squad that's been atop the standings for most of the last few months, picking a team that doesn't have a traditional star player on its roster seems like a stretch. At the same time, over their last 10 games, the Raptors have the second most wins in the East and the third best net rating in the conference.

How are they doing it? With a balanced attack that features maybe the best one through five starting lineup in the NBA. Their most recent victim was the Indiana Pacers, who they beat by 40 points behind 23 from Pascal Siakam, the 12th time in the last 13 games he's had at least 20.

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All of this means that we should probably be taking the East's new sixth seed a bit more seriously - just maybe not tonight. It's hard to comprehend Boston's level of dominance over the last two months, but the best way to encapsulate it might be by looking at their scoring margin: Over the last 25 games - only three of which they've lost - their total margin of plus-377 is more than 100 points better than the next closest team. It's also nearly three times that of the fifth best team in that span and is better than the year-long margins of all but four other teams.

Recently, that success has reached even higher heights, with five covers in six games. And yet, they're dogs here. Why? Jayson Tatum, who is listed as questionable with a knee issue, along with Robert Williams and Al Horford, both of whom are out. For Toronto, Gary Trent Jr is questionable while Fred VanVleet is listed as day to day.

This is a test of the culture that Boston has built up over the last several months. We've seen top teams overcome player absences all season long, and that notion will be put to the test here, although the fact that Tatum could play is a gift that shouldn't be turned away. Take the points on the road.

Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics Pick

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New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls Prediction

  • When: 7:30 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: League Pass

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Knicks vs. Bulls Line Movement

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New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls Prediction

This has been a quietly tight matchup this season, with Chicago winning twice but a total margin of just nine points between the teams. Recent returns say that New York is primed to even things up, as they have the NBA's 10th best scoring margin since the break while the Bulls have dropped all the way down to 27th in that time.

What's wrong in Chicago? The sturdy defense that surprised many over the first few months of the season has fallen apart, falling into the bottom 10 in the NBA. Missing Lonzo Ball, who remains out, is a blow, but there are deeper systemic issues at play here. The Knicks, meanwhile, have shored up a defense that was leaky to start the season and are now bordering on being a top-10 defense once again.

It never feels great to take the Knicks, what with their crunch time woes (see: nearly blowing a 21-point lead in Detroit yesterday). That said, they've won eight of 12 outright and have held a fourth quarter lead in all but two games since the break. There has been a noticeable improvement in their play for more than a month now and were it not for their issues closing out games, we'd be looking at them quite a bit differently.

To cover here, they don't need to win, just as long as they take it down to the wire. Against a team with just four wins in their last 14 games, that won't be an issue. Take the points at home.

New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls Pick

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Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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