The Washington Wizards ship it off to Tampa Bay to take on the Toronto Raptors in their fake home at Amalie Arena in Florida on Thursday night. In most other seasons, this would be nothing but a matchup of two veteran teams who grossly underachieved during this campaign. While that could still end up being true, the play-in tournament has lent this matchup between 10th and 12th seeds in the Eastern Conference a lot more juice.
Free Picks: Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards
Raptors, Wizards Clash As East Play-In Battle Picks Up Heat (Season Betting Record: 92-101)
It’s clear from the roster decisions and overall play of the two teams lately that there is one side that has a lot more interest in making the play-in than the other, however. The Wizards have won 13 of their past 16 games as of this writing and have been getting herculean efforts from their top two guys, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, on a nightly basis.
It’s clear from the staff down to the players that the Wiz are fighting for their playoff lives and that they believe that they can make some noise if they do get into the play-in tournament. Meanwhile, the Raptors have been giving off the opposite sense over the past few weeks, with head coach Nick Nurse making head scratching moves that can only be explained away by a tank from Toronto.
The powers that be have maintained that they’re not doing that, but when Kyle Lowry misses four or five games in a row due to rest, it’s not like they’re doing much to hide their intentions. The team actually got fined for that Lowry stunt, though that hasn’t stopped the Raps from sitting their top guys for most games over the past few weeks.
Though some do have honest to goodness injury issues, you have to assume that a lot of these missed games are rest related, despite the fact that the Raptors are just three games out of the play-in. Fred VanVleet has missed two of the past four games for rest, Lowry has missed two of the past three, OG Anunoby has missed the last two, and trade deadline acquisition Gary Trent Jr. has missed the last six straight.
Now, this team is obviously not just going to roll over for the Wiz on Thursday night; Washington will have to bring it because while Nurse has not been keen on playing his best players of late, that strategy has left him with a bunch of scrappy and tough guys that are still trying to win every night despite the team’s underlying goal for the remainder of this season.
The Wiz are the slight favorites for the contest, though it is basically being listed as a toss up by most sportsbooks. The NBA pick here already seemed obvious, but considering that the Wizards are 5-1 this season when they come into another team’s building as the favorite (their best split) and Toronto is 3-9 when hosting as a dog (their second worst split), there’s even more reason to make the Wizards one of our best bets for today.
It’s anybody’s guess who will end up getting active for this game from the Raptors’ side, but you can be damn sure that Beal and the Brodie will be coming to put on a show and get a convincing win. Not to mention they wouldn’t mind putting some distance between them and the non play-in qualifying group of teams.
The Wizards were without promising youngster Rui Hachimura on Wednesday night due to a stomach bug (not COVID), so his status is uncertain for Thursday night, but other than that, the Wiz have no health issues to worry about. Other than, of course, the long term ones to Deni Avdija and Thomas Bryant, but we’ve known about those for a while now.
Considering the spread in this game is negligible, we decided to simply go with Washington’s moneyline, which is sitting at tasty -106 NBA odds as of this writing, making it one of our top picks for this Thursday night NBA slate. When the Raptors win these days, it’s basically by accident, so we’re betting on this Thursday matchup to go to plan for both Washington and Toronto.
- Washington has won 8 of its last 10 games
- Toronto has lost 5 of its last 7 games
- Washington is 5-1 SU as an away favorite this season
- Toronto is 3-9 SU as a home underdog this season
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.