After what seemed like an eternity, we are finally back in the main part of the NBA season, with the best 8 teams from each conference facing off against each other for the grand prize; the title of the NBA Champions. But before we get too excited about the finals, the teams first need to go through 4 stages of conference playoffs.
In this betting preview, we will take a look at the first match of 1/8 finals between Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. The match will take place at Scotiabank Arena on April 13th.
Toronto Raptors enter the 2019 NBA Playoffs with 1 less win compared to their last season, however, the expectations are not lower. Instead, we could say they are much higher, following the arrivals of Jeremy Lin, Kawhi Leonard and Marc Gasol and we can hardly argue with their way of thinking. But actions speak louder than words, which is why we must mention that Toronto Raptors ended the regular season as the 5th most effective offensive and defensive team.
On the other side, we have got Orlando Magic, who surprised us all with their appearance in the playoffs. Last season, Orlando Magic were just disastrous, winning only 25 games (25-57), and while this season looked better, they were at one point 11 games under 0.500.
Nonetheless, Orlando Magic woke up and won 21 out of their last 30 games, thus passing their opponents and earning their spot in the playoffs. Much of their success is due to the incredible work of their head coach Steve Clifford and of course the all-star Nikola Vucevic.
While Orlando does not seem like a team that belongs in the playoffs, they have proven us that they can perform on the top level if they want to. With their surprising improvement, their morale has skyrocketed as well, which should give them a boost in the playoffs, where they are paired with a well-known opponent.
The biggest problem Orlando could face is their somewhat “iffy” offence, which has not been too impressive. While the improvement is there, Orlando still lacks in the offensive department to be considered a great offensive team. That going against Toronto Raptors great defence might raise some doubts, but not everything is as dark as it seems, as Toronto have problems of their own to take care off.
Mainly the question of their rotation. With plenty of players capable of playing in different roles, their coach Nick Nurse will need to find the right balance. Having depth in the squad is great, but solely having it does not win the playoff games.
And there is also the question of how ready is Nick Nurse for his first playoffs as a coach. Coaching the team in the regular season is one thing, while the playoffs are completely different. We could say that teams win the regular season matches, coaches win the playoff matches.
Toronto Raptors come off as a better side, solely due to their improved roster, which has brought a lot of expectations upon the team. With Kawhi Leonard, who is arguably one of the best players in the league leading the team, it seems like Toronto Raptors are ready to face off against any team they are put against. But being ready and being capable of winning are two different things.
Orlando come into the playoffs as a surprise and with that with an underdog label on their backs. The 2019 NBA playoffs will mark the first time they managed to get into the postseason since 2012, which is a great achievement on its own, but I don’t expect them to stop here.
From what we have seen from Orlando Magic, they are more than capable of making Raptors work for their promotion. Their biggest strength is their defence, which has more or less shut down Raptors offence in the past H2H matches.
While it’s true Orlando don’t have as potent attack as Toronto, they surely have the better defence. At least as far as the H2H fixtures go. Taking all into consideration, I believe Orlando Magic are good enough to prevent any easy points for Raptors, thus keeping the margin in single digits.
Prediction: Orlando Magic +8.00 points
Odds: 2.07 Matchbook