NBA Betting Preview: New Jersey Nets at Toronto Raptors

New Jersey Nets AT Toronto Raptors
December 17th, 2010 at 7:05 PM EST
Opening Line:  Toronto -4
Current Line: Toronto -5
Opening Total 198.5
Current Total: 203
Opening Moneyline:  Toronto -175 / New Jersey +155
Current Moneyilne:  Toronto -210 / New Jersey +175

The "feather soft" Bargnani will have to play tough tonight vs Brook Lopez

After losing 8 straight games, New Jersey managed to get things right at home against the Wizards, who still have yet to win a road game this year.  While it may have been a relief to end the streak for the Nets, they now find themselves nursing a 7-19 record, the second worst in the Eastern Conference.  It’s difficult for Nets’ fans and coaches to point fingers; no one is playing significantly below expectations – they just aren’t a very good team.  They do have a bright future with one of the best true centers in the game in Brook Lopez, and they have a fringe all-star quality point guard in Devin Harris, but they clearly need more scorers, as they are the second lowest scoring team in the league with 92.8 points per game.  That might be okay if they were a prime time defensive team like the Magic or Celtics, but they still give up 98 points a game.

Toronto is coming off consecutive losses to Charlotte and Chicago and also sport a record far below .500 of 9-17, and they have lost 7 of their past 10.  They have a -3.3 point differential, scoring 102.0 but giving up an unhealthy 105.3.  They have the second worst field goal percentage in the NBA (48.7%) and are the third worst in three pointers made with just 5.2 per game.  Outside of Bargnani, they don’t have any legitimate second option on offense and have had to make do with Barbosa and Bayless, who both average near 13 a game.

Some betting trends:  The total has gone OVER in 5 of New Jersey’s last 7 games in Toronto, and the Nets have lost their last 6 games to the Raptors.  New Jersey is also 0-5 ATS in their past 5 road games.

Toronto is 2-5 ATS in their past 7 games.  The total has gone OVER in 5 of Toronto’s past 6 games and OVER in 4 of their past 5 at home.  They are 2-4 ATS in their past 6 home games.  Toronto is 3-5-1 ATS in their last 9 home games against New Jersey.

Some key matchups for tonight’s game to pay attention to:

Brook Lopez vs. Andrea Bargnani

This brings together two big men with different styles of play.  Bargnani does most of his damage from outside and doesn’t look to post up or bang inside very often.  Lopez, on the other hand, does most of his scoring down low and will look to bang against the soft Bargnani.  Despite his 7’0″ 250 pound frame, Bargnani averages less than 6 rebounds a game, not that Lopez is much better at just ovet 6.  The two big men each lead their respective teams in scoring, though, and it will be worth monitoring which gets the upper hand in the scoring, particularly with regard to Brook Lopez who provides most of the Nets’ punch, weak though it may be.

Devin Harris vs. Jerryd Bayless

Bayless was recently acquired from the Hornets, and he played for the Blazers before that.  This has been his first real chance to shine with José Calderon out.  He has made the most of it, averaging 13.3 points per game and 4.4 assists in just under 24 minutes a game.  Devin Harris has the speed to stay with Bayless and vice versa, so they may be able to cut off penetration, which will lead to a low scoring game.

Bad though both teams are, nba oddsmakers have set the line in Toronto’s favor, mainly because they are at home and New Jersey is 2-11 on the road.  Expect a poorly played, but close, game.

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