Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The Toronto/Brooklyn series is shaping up as a potential seven-game classic given the relative strengths and overall equality of both teams. Each of the first two games in Toronto was tight in the final minutes. Brooklyn strung together some clutch baskets to win the opener (helped by some friendly officiating). But, it was Toronto that kept scoring in crunch time of the rematch this past Tuesday Night.
Neither team is strong enough to run away and hide from the other. Neither team has a glaring weakness that’s likely to cause them to collapse from this point forward. This is great news for basketball fans who like watching close battles…and even better news for the Miami Heat who might be able to sit around for days and await the winner!
Those teams are involved in the only matchups we haven’t tackled in depth so far here in the NOTEBOOK. Let’s look over Raptors/Nets right now…then we’ll get to Miami/Charlotte tomorrow as we complete this busy week of opening round previews.
Toronto: 105.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #9 in the NBA)
Brooklyn: 104.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #14 in the NBA)
Those have to be adjusted a bit because both teams play in the weak Eastern Conference. Brooklyn’s probably a bit below average league-wide after you adjust for schedule strength. Toronto may not be top 10…but isn’t worse than average overall. Worth noting that Brooklyn has been better in recent weeks than the full season mark would suggest. They paced themselves, and saved their best for the right time of the year. Toronto is more explosive (and younger!). The experience of Brooklyn may prove to be the difference if this series does go deep.
Toronto: 102.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #9 in the NBA)
Brooklyn: 104.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #19 in the NBA)
Hey, how about Toronto grading out so well on both sides of the floor! Many of you didn’t see them play this year because they were so rarely on ESPN, ABC, or even TNT. They really did make great strides forward after trading the poisonous Rudy Gay. If not for inexperience (and perhaps some immaturity from DeMar DeRozan), they could be seen as a legitimate darkhorse to win the East. The stats are there. But, you have to learn how to win in the playoffs before you can truly be feared in the playoffs.
Both teams are naturally slow, which just magnifies itself under the playoff spotlight. Look for VERY slow fourth quarters from these teams moving forward. On nights where the refs swallow their whistles, we could have extremely low scoring finishes…and games ending in the 150’s. Maybe that’s not going to happen yet this weekend. Be on the lookout for that soon.
Against the Spread
Brooklyn had a horrible start to the season, which made it hard for backers to make any money over the full 82-game NBA slate. Their run that began with the new year was much more successful. Toronto has offered great value all season. Brooklyn offered great value through 2014. Vegas oddsmakers really missed the boat on many developing storylines in the second half of the season because they were so obsessed with March Madness.
Las Vegas Line:
Brooklyn by 5, total of 191
Brooklyn is seen as the superior team by the markets. You knew that going in when they were given favorite status on the series price even though they didn’t have home court advantage. If you assume home court is worth 3-4 in the playoffs, then Brooklyn is about a point or so better in raw Power Ratings than Toronto. Given two late toss-ups in Canada…the results are consistent with market perceptions thus far. Should Toronto be THAT big an underdog though given their youth and speed?
JIM HURLEY has some thoughts about that. And, it’s clear as we go to press that Toronto/Brooklyn is likely to be part of a Friday Night NBA PARLAY that will also include either Chicago/Washington or Houston/Portland (maybe both!). You can purchase the final word for Friday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Remember to check on combination packages that include the NBA, Major League Baseball, and the upcoming Triple Crown in horse racing. JIM HURLEY has more horse racing clients than most handicapping services have for football!
As we mentioned earlier, we’ll look at the Miami/Charlotte game in our Saturday edition of the NOTEBOOK. Sunday will bring baseball, with the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees in the Sunday Night game on ESPN. Starting Monday, we’ll pick out the most exciting NBA Playoff game each night and run some numbers for you. This first week has been a lot of fun…but the intensity will be kicked up another notch next week when so many teams have their seasons on the line.
JIM HURLEY always brings PEAK INTENSITY. That’s why his clients always enjoy PEAK PROFITS!