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Raptors set as underdogs in Miami for Game 6 of playoff series

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The Toronto Raptors can advance to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history with a win on Friday when they visit the Miami Heat for Game 6 of their second-round series as 4-point underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Toronto rebounded from a stunning 94-87 overtime loss in Game 4 to take command of the series with a 99-91 win at home on Wednesday, lifting them to -350 chalk on the NBA series prices ahead of Friday night’s Raptors vs. Heat betting matchup at American Airlines Arena.

Game 5 featured a long-awaited breakthrough for the Raptors’ all-star backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who combined for 59 points after previously underachieving in the postseason.

Toronto covered as 4.5-point home favorites in Game 5, marking just their second against the spread victory in their past nine games, and their first ATS win at Air Canada Centre since Game 2 of their opening-round clash with the Indiana Pacers.

While the Raptors have struggled to put up points, they have proven effective at containing opposing offenses, surrendering just 92.33 points per game in their past six, and have seen the point total play UNDER in nine of their past 13 games, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

With their loss on Wednesday, the Heat must now overcome a 3-2 series deficit for the second time this spring.

Miami came up big when facing elimination in their first-round series with Charlotte, handing the Hornets a pair of straight up and ATS defeats to take the series in seven games, but face an uphill battle against a Raptors squad which they have been unable to string consecutive SU wins against over their past 11 meetings.

The Heat are a meager 2-3 SU and ATS in their past five home dates with Toronto, but look to build on their current 10-2 SU and ATS run on home court.

Following their four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers await the winner of the Raptors vs. Heat series trailing only the Golden State Warriors on the odds to win the NBA championship, sporting a strengthened betting line of +250.

The Warriors continue to lead the way as -150 chalk ahead of their Western Conference Finals matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who advanced with a 112-97 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of their second-round series but are just 1-6 SU in their past seven games against the Warriors.

Toronto sits well back of the NBA championship betting favorites at +4000, but remain ahead of the Heat, who trail as distant +10000 longshots to claim their third NBA title since 2011.

Klay Thompson, Aaron Gordon betting favorites on Three-Point, Slam Dunk contest odds

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It’s been 10 years since NBA All-Star Saturday saw the Three-Point Contest winner keep his title, which is something to keep in mind when assessing the contenders this weekend.

Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors shooting guard, is at +110 odds to win the Three-Point Contest at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic is a heavy -155 favorite on the odds to win the Slam Dunk Contest now that defending champion Zach LaVine is done for the season with a knee injury.

Both events will be held on Saturday in New Orleans, on the eve of the all-star game.

Thompson is slated to have seven challengers, including one past champion, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (+400), who won in 2013. No player has had a three-year gap between wins since the contest’s creation, but Irving is also having a career year as a scorer and his price is tempting.

The Houston Rockets’ Eric Gordon (+900) is one of the league’s most prolific perimeter shooters and probably has the most value on the board.

The Three-Point Contest field is rounded out by the Portland Trail Blazers’ C.J. McCollum (+800), the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry (+900), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Nick Young (+900), the Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker (+1100) and the Dallas Mavericks’ Wes Matthews (+1100).

Lowry being priced where he is might give pause. The point guard has always been more of a slasher than a pure shooter, but added the three-ball to his arsenal this season and is hitting 41.7 per cent of the time, well above his career 36.5% rate.

In the Slam Dunk Contest, it’s not necessarily Aaron Gordon and everyone else competing for second place. Gordon will have to face ratcheted-up expectations after his dazzling runner-up effort in Toronto in 2016. Phoenix Suns rookie Derrick Jones Jr. (+130) is a high flier and his status as something of an unknown could help improve his scores.

The Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (+800), as a seven-foot center, doesn’t fit the profile of a dunk contest winner. The Indiana Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III (+900) fills out the board on the NBA betting lines for Saturday night.

 

NBA Christmas Day Slate has Warriors, Spurs Among Odds Favorites

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Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors typically manage to cover when they face a close line on the road. The Warriors are listed as 3.5-point favorites on the NBA betting lines against the Cleveland Cavaliers for their Christmas Day matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Warriors are finding their peak form and are 14-2 straight-up and 7-8-1 against the spread on the road this season. The smallest line in any of the ATS losses, though, was 8.5 points.

The main matchup will be Durant against LeBron James, who has helped Cleveland forge a home record of 15-2 SU and 10-6-1 ATS. The Cavaliers are trying to replace injured SG J.R. Smith (right thumb surgery). Star forward Kevin Love (left knee bruise) also has an injury issue, but only had to play 25 minutes during a blowout win on Friday.

The Christmas Day slate begins with the New York Knicks hosting the Boston Celtics in a pick’em contest. The key matchup will be at point guard – the Knicks’ Derrick Rose and the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas. Boston is 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 road games and has found a rhythm since C Al Horford returned from injury.

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (right knee contusion) could have his minutes closely monitored to avoid aggravating his injury.

The San Antonio Spurs are favored by 7.5 points against the Chicago Bulls in a matchup headlined by two elite small forwards, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard and the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. It is tough to go against San Antonio being 14-0 SU and 11-3 ATS in December home games over the last two seasons, particularly with Chicago’s erratic perimeter shooting.

The Bulls are 4-6 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games as a road underdog, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are favored by 4.5 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thunder PG Russell Westbrook is carrying his team which has been inconsistent at home, going 9-6 SU and 8-7 ATS this season.

Minnesota has plenty of promise in C Karl-Anthony Towns and SF Andrew Wiggins, but awful defense has kept them from getting into the playoff picture. The Timberwolves are 1-9 SU and 4-6 ATS in their last 10 road games against the Thunder.

And the availability of Chris Paul (hamstring) will weigh heavily on the lines for the Christmas nightcap between the Los Angeles Lakers and Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are also without PF Blake Griffin (minor knee surgery), but D’Angelo Russell and the young Lakers are struggling at 0-4 SU and ATS in their last four divisional games.

The Clippers are 10-0 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games as the favorite against the Lakers.