With less than a second left in Game 3 of their playoff series with the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors looked like a team that would be released from the NBA bubble in Orlando in a matter of days. Already down 2–0 in the series and 103-101 in the game, a third loss would almost surely signal an end to the bizarre 2019-20 season for the defending NBA champions.
Instead, OG Anunoby‘s three-point basket to beat the buzzer, off a cross-court inbounds pass from Kyle Lowry, gave the Raptors the win and new life heading to Game 4 on Saturday.
Despite the last-second heroics in Game 3, the Celtics have looked like the better team so far in this series. They’ve demonstrated better ball movement and more consistent offense than the Raptors.
For the series, the Celtics have won the rebounding battle each game by an average of six per night. The Raptors have held onto the ball better, averaging 4.7 turnovers less than the Celtics.
The Celtics are averaging almost 106 points while holding Toronto to 99 points a game. The last two games have been tight, with the Celtics winning Game 2 by three points and, of course, the Raptors prevailing by just a single point in Game 3.
A Look at the Lines
The Raptors are slim one-point favorites for Game 4, paying out -110 against the spread and -115 for the moneyline. The Celtics also pay out -110 against the spread, but -105 for the moneyline.
The over/under is 213.5, which is 6.5 points higher than the total score for any of the games thus far in the series. Clearly, the oddsmakers are looking for more offense or less defense in Game 4 than we’ve seen in the first three games.
Interestingly enough, the opening lines for Game 3 were very similar, with the Raptors installed as one-point favorites with an over/under of 114.0. By game time, the line had moved to -2.5 for the Raptors with an over/under of 117.
Obviously, the opening line was dead on as the Raptors went on to win by that single point, but the over/under was significantly off.
There is definitely betting sentiment for the Raptors, demonstrated by the movement in the line from Raptors -1.0 to -2.5 in the day before Game 3. The same can be said for the over/under, as it increased from 114 to 117.
The same shift could happen again for Game 4, so if you want to bet on the Celtics, perhaps making a late bet would be the way to go.
Game 4 Preview
In Game 1, the Celtics put six players in double figures, while in Game 2, it was five, and in the last game, they had even less balance with four players in double figures, led by Kemba Walker‘s 29 points. Boston’s balance, even without injured Gordon Hayward, is a key to its success, so Toronto’s ability to limit it helped the Raptors hang on with that improbable ending to Game 3.
For the Raptors to keep from going down 3-1 in the series, they’ll again need to get solid shooting from Lowry and Fred VanVleet, who went off for 31 and 25 points, respectively, in Game 3. As a team, the Raptors were able to make almost 47% of their shots, with a respectable 32.5% from beyond the three-point line. More of the same in Game 4 could enable Toronto to even the series.
The Celtics need to regain the scoring balance they saw in the first two games of the series and get back to more effective ball movement on offense. Both teams played good defense in Game 3, resulting in the total score coming in far below the over/under figure, but just about equal to the average for the series.
Can these teams each add five or six points to their output? They’ll have to if you’re going to win the over bet.