Toronto Raptors at Denver Nuggets
Time: 8 PM CT (NBA League Pass)
Spread: TOR -4.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Toronto Raptors are quietly tearing teams apart. The Raptors have now won 11 straight games largely under the NBA radar, and mostly due to the fantastic season the Golden State Warriors are having.
But the Raps are now just 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the best record in the East, and Toronto will be 4.5 point favorites as they travel to face the Denver Nuggets at 8 PM Central on NBA League Pass.
Perhaps part of the reason surrounding the quietude of the Raptors streak is that they have mostly knocked off underwhelming opponents. Only four of the wins came against playoff contending teams and the Raptors most recently knocked off the Detroit Pistons 111-107 last night. Toronto got another big game from its leading scorer DeMar DeRozan who finished with 29 points on 10 of 21 shooting.
Kyle Lowry contributed 18 points and eight assists, though it was James Johnson who posted the only positive plus/minus of the starters. Toronto’s bench added 35 points in the game, paced by point guard Cory Joseph who is developing into a very legitimate sixth man. He hit 6 of 11 from the field for 16 points and he has been averaging 10.2 points, 3.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds over his past five games.
DeRozan is expected to have a lot of teams pursue him as a free agent this summer. He made his second career All-Star team this season and is developing into a true No. 1 option. DeRozan has posted 23.2 points per game this season while attempting 17.7 field goals per game. He still is not a deadly three-point shooter (31.8 percent), but his athleticism enables him to get shots just about at will.
The Raptors will certainly want to keep him paired with Lowry, but it may not be able to if DeRozan finds the bright lights of Los Angeles attractive, as the Lakers are said to be one team among many interested in his services.
The Nuggets meanwhile fall further and further behind in the chase at 18-30. Denver has dropped three of its past four games and five of its past seven. The most recent loss was a 109-105 loss to the Indiana Pacers last night. Danilo Gallinari had a big night with 23 points on 8 of 17 shooting, but he has been heavily referenced in a number of NBA trade rumors.
Teams are seeing a 6’10” court stretcher who may thrive in a situation as a stretch-4. But really the whole Nuggets team is up for lease: Kenneth Faried is another guy teams will come calling for. Faried had 16 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to the Pacers, and his potential to be a top rebounder is still there, even if he has not been overly dominant in his NBA career.
The Nuggets are just 9-15 at home this season where it is typically pretty tough, but this is a team in the beginning stages of a rebuild that will be centered around point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and swingman Gary Harris. The Nuggets are not depleted of talent, but in no way can it make a legitimate run at the postseason.
If Denver is able to get good returns on Gallo and Faried it could retool quickly, and it will be in store for a good lottery pick in what should be another decent draft. Denver is not blown out of the water, but it is the fourth-worst team in the West and only slightly less pitiful than most expected prior to this season. Denver has a young and exciting backcourt, and it really just needs to continue to develop Harris, Mudiay and young big man Nikola Jokic.