Today the 28-11 Toronto Raptors visit the 21-17 San Antonio Spurs in one of the most anticipated matchups of the NBA season thus far (8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
Last summer, Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard demanded a trade from San Antonio due to conflicts with the organization that still aren’t completely clear. Danny Green joined him in the trade to Toronto, and the Spurs got back longtime Raptors fan favorite DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl, along with a first-round draft pick.
San Antonio’s home crowd is sure to have plenty of negative feelings to show Leonard in this game, his first against his former team.
Both of these teams have played well over the past several weeks, but the Spurs actually enter the game hotter. Toronto is dealing with injuries to key players Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas right now.
Let’s preview this marquee NBA matchup and then provide betting recommendations with our Toronto Raptors vs San Antonio Spurs predictions both for the spread and the over/under on the total points.
How Will Factors Such as Spurs’ Crowd & Player Motivation Affect This Game?
As much as the Raptors’ and Spurs’ players will try to deny it, this isn’t just another game. The Spurs’ DeRozan and Poeltl will be trying hard to show out in front of the Raptors, and the Raptors’ Leonard and Green will do the same against the Spurs. All four guys were traded away in the offseason by their former teams and will probably feel wronged.
The players who approach this game with more of a chip on their shoulder will have a better shot of leading their team to victory.
Also, it remains to be seen how much the Spurs’ home crowd will affect the game’s outcome. San Antonio will almost assuredly boo Leonard every time he touches the ball. He hasn’t faced this sort of hate at any point in his career before. Some players thrive under those circumstances, but it can rattle others. The effect the Spurs’ crowd has on Leonard could play a big role in this game.
Will LaMarcus Aldridge Be Aggressive in the Paint on Offense?
The Raptors will be without center Jonas Valanciunas in this game. Valanciunas is one of the best reserves in the NBA with his ability to score in the post and protect the rim with his 7’6” wingspan and brute strength. He is also pretty slow, but his absence is still impactful.
Toronto is left with Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe as its main big men. Siakam and Ibaka are athletic and rangy, but they can’t match Aldridge’s strength. Monroe is strong, but he’s slow and doesn’t scare anyone with his interior defense.
We saw on Tuesday how the Utah Jazz exploited the Raptors’ shorthanded frontcourt in a narrow Raptors win. Jazz big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert combined for 37 points in 59 minutes on 14-of-19 shooting from the field and 7-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line.
Aldridge is a better post scorer than both Favors and Gobert. Recently, he has been very aggressive and successful using his strength to seal off shorter and weaker big men off the ball near the basket. However, he still has the occasional tendency to drift away from the paint too often. In this game, he needs to exploit his matchup advantage near the basket.
Do Raptors Have the Necessary Chemistry & Experience to Win Bench Battle?
The Raptors, when healthy, have one of the best benches in the league. However, due to the recent injuries of Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas, Fred VanVleet moves to a starting role and Greg Monroe takes Valanciunas’ spot with the second unit. That removes probably the two best bench players from a group that plays well together.
The remaining Toronto reserves (Delon Wright, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Monroe and C.J. Miles) aren’t spectacular and they haven’t yet developed great chemistry together.
The Spurs have a bench group led by Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Dante Cunningham, Davis Bertans and Jakob Poeltl that is full of experience and chemistry. They have been playing great basketball together in the last several weeks.
Toronto’s reserves will need to play with great energy and hit its outside shots to contend with the Spurs’ bench.
Our Preview’s Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs Betting Picks & Predictions
With the Raptors not completely whole and the Spurs coming off nine wins in their last 10 home games (many by large margins), I expect San Antonio to win here.
I do think the Spurs’ raucous crowd will be a significant factor. They will cheer their team on to a great effort today. So these are the Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs predictions for this preview:
- The Spurs are advertised as a favorite by 1.5 to 2 points with the sportsbooks. I would recommend taking your best odds of Spurs -1.5pts @ -110 with Intertops or Bookmaker.
- The Spurs will be energetic in this game, but I think it will help them more on defense than on offense. They will play tight defense and force the Raptors to go one-on-one for many possessions. The second of the picks is to place you bet on the under 217pts @ best odds of -105 with Bovada.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.