The NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday afternoon and I will have a free pick in the game between the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors, which will take place at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The game has a start time of 12:30 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Current Vegas betting odds have Toronto listed as 4.5 point favorites, while the total is set at 193.5.
Analysis: Washington had a very solid 46-36 year, but because they were in the Southeast Division they finned 14 games behind the Atlanta Hawks, who had the best record in the East. The Wizards also had a record of 17-24 on the road and they were 1-2 vs the Raptors during the regular season. Many feel the Wizards have what it takes to upset the Raptors in their round 1 series. Washington has gone 4-1-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. the Eastern Conference, but just 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Toronto and 3-23-2 ATS in their last 28 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The Wizards have been an average offensive team this year, ranking 17th in scoring (98.5 ppg), 6th in shooting, 9th in 3 point shooting and 21st in FT shooting. Defensively the Wizards have been solid this year, ranking 10th in points allowed (97.8 ppg), 2nd in defensive FG% and 14th in 3 point defense.
The Raptors played in the rather weak Atlantic Division, in which they were the only team with a wining record. Toronto finished at 49-33 overall, which included a mark of 27-14 at home. Toronto does come in playing well as they won 4 of their last 5 games down the stretch, despite the fact that they had nothing to play for. The Raptors have gone 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Saturday games, but just 7-20 ATS in their last 27 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game and 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record. The Raptors have be a good offensive team this year, ranking 4th in scoring (104.0 ppg), 12th in shooting, 11th in 3 point shooting and 2nd in FT shooting. Defensively the Raptors have been average this year, ranking 19th in points allowed (100.9 ppg), 26th in defensive FG% and 13th in 3 point defense.
Pick: I am going to give a shot to the Wizards here. In their last game vs Indiana, Wizard players didn't want to be taken out of the game. That may mean that Whitman is losing his team, but I see it as a team that is really Focused heading into the playoffs. They want to win and they do have the players to pull it off. Toronto played so solid defense down the stretch, but still overall this is an inconsistent team and I see Washington taking game one here.
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