Old friends meet again as the Toronto Raptors (27-38) visit Kawhi Leonard and his Los Angeles Clippers (43-22) this Tuesday night. The Raptors are double-digit dogs or +400 on the moneyline, while the Clippers are -500 per the NBA odds.
The Raptors are facing the Clippers for the first time this season but have lost the previous two games against their old playoff hero. The Clippers have lost three straight and are struggling on offense. But they could have a big night against the flaky Raptors, who are also known to have scoring explosions.
Khem Birch: The Raptors’ Secret Weapon
The Montrealer has flourished since starting with the Toronto Raptors, as has the team.
Toronto is 6-4 as Birch has posted 11.2 points, eight boards, and 2.1 assists in 30 minutes of action. Add 1.3 blocks and the occasional three and he’s doing it all for Toronto.
Khem Birch had himself a night 🙌
20 PTS (career-high) | 8 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK pic.twitter.com/RPmEuBxS73
— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) April 30, 2021
Birch has easily gone over 18½ in points, rebounds, and assists in four of his last five games. He got into foul trouble against the Lakers and that impeded his production. But he’s generally been sharp on the defensive end and should play another big role against the Clippers.
Pick: Khem Birch Over 18½ Pts+Rebs+Asts (-120)
Highest Scoring Half: Opening With A Bang
The Raptors have developed into one of the best first-half road offenses this season. In their last six road games, the team is ranked second in the league’s first-half offensive rating at a whopping 124.7. Toronto shot 60.3% based on effective field goal metrics while averaging the third-lowest turnover percent (TOV%).
The Clippers, on the other hand, are a middle-of-the-pack defensive team in the first half in their last five games. The team is allowing 47.2% shooting from its visitors. Their tempo increases when in the Staples Center hence why their totals have gone over more frequently here (17-15-1) than on the road (14-17-1).
Pick: Highest Scoring Half ― 1st Half (-150)
Team With Highest Scoring Quarter: Raptors’ Rage
I get why the sports betting odds are this skewed towards the 5-1 favorite, Clippers. But it’s not too improbable that Toronto gets the highest-scoring quarter and still loses. The Raptors average 30.6 points in the first period when on the road, the third-highest mark in the league.
Five of the Raptors’ highest-scoring games have also happened on the road. This team hits the third-most threes in the league and have at least three players who can go off and score a dozen in a single period. Of course, the Raptors have also given up some big quarters. But at 2-1, it’s worth a small gamble.
Pick: Highest Scoring Quarter ― Raptors (+200)
Double Result: Raptors Start Fast, Clippers Finish Strong
The Raptors have won many games in the first half and lost them in the second half. They have a top-three offense in the opening half but that drops down to the bottom-five in the second half. Plenty of that has to do with the team’s lack of depth.
A good chunk of Toronto’s scoring comes from its starters. The Raptors’ 30.7 bench points is second-last in the league and just slightly ahead of the Cavaliers. When Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet are doing all the heavy lifting, they’re bound to slow down towards the end.
Meanwhile, the Clippers maintain balanced scoring throughout the game. They have the fifth-best bench scoring at 38.7 and have a top-five offense in the second half.
Toronto dropped 72 on the Lakers in the first half then slowed down in the second. I expect a similar trend here but with the Clippers winning.
Pick: Double Result, Raptors–Clippers +425