2018 NBA Playoff Betting: Wizards/Raptors

Posted on 2018-04-13 12:09 by Preston Johnson




While betting individual games offers us value within a series, there are also going to be bets worth making on the actual series prices and spreads themselves before a Game 1 even tips off. I’ll be posting and updating anything that I bet as far as series are concerned here in this article. There currently aren’t any books offering series spreads yet, but as those go up before the playoffs begin Saturday I’ll certainly be adding them as well. An example of a series spread for those that aren’t aware would be something like the Wizards +2.5 games won, +125. Be on the lookout for these. 

I’ll be referring to lines offered at the four main books I use offshore: Pinnacle, Cris/Bookmaker, 5dimes and BetOnline. I will occasionally find a better number for myself here in Las Vegas, but for everybody else’s sake I will only post prices from these books in the articles. If you have other outs too then great, always shop around for the best price and number at your disposal. 





  • Best Wizards price: +506 (Cris)
  • Best Raptors price: -650 (BetOnline)

I give the Wizards an 18.2% chance of winning the series, so my true line comes out to be Raptors -449.  I made a 0.2x bet for now on the Wizards ML at +506 to win the series. The majority of my money I anticipate will be risked on a potential series spread option when it opens.

There isn’t a ton of analysis that goes into this bet other than my numbers point to a pretty sizable edge on the Wizards at over 5/1. I’m not betting this because of the Raptors-are-never-good-in-the-playoffs narrative — from past seasons — that aren’t this one. My perceived true line for the series is 57 cents lower than what we are being offered in the market. I’m going to be betting that discrepancy as often as I can.

It’s worth noting that John Wall is back from his injury and healthy to make a playoff push. Washington was +4.3/100 with Wall this season (78th percentile) compared to -1.3/100 (45th percentile) when he wasn’t on the court. Wall missed 41 games this year, so while they wound up getting the 8-seed and matched up against the best team in the Eastern Conference, this healthy Wizards squad is quite a bit better than their current record would indicate. 

When you break down the actual matchup I think Washington fans like where they are at. The Raptors two best players Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are instantly countered by John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards have a big advantage at small forward with Otto Porter Jr. He was their most impactful player this season and still drastically underrated by most. Washington was outscored by -6.9/100 when Porter Jr. wasn’t on the court this season. That’s 19th percentile league-wide! When he played, however, it jumped to +5.3/100 (81st percentile). That isn’t quite a Steph Curry impact, but it’s pretty dang close. Porter Jr. ranked 10th in the league in RPM (Real-Plus-Minus) this season. The guy deserves to be on an All-NBA team but my guess is he’ll get snubbed. 

Anyway, Toronto fans are yelling at me. Yes, I know the Raptors have a massive advantage when it comes to the team’s bench and depth. This is why they were the better team over the course of the regular season. This will still play an important factor in the series, but it won’t be as significant as it was day-to-day over the course of a season. Rotations shorten in the playoffs. The Wizards aren’t deep, but if they only need to turn to eight or nine players then Toronto’s advantage is somewhat negated. And I pray Scott Brooks learned his lesson after the debacle in the Boston series that went seven games a year ago. Brooks was playing Ian Mahinmi critical minutes over and over throughout the series, and especially head-scratching was in the fourth quarter of Game 7 as Kelly Olynyk went off for 14 of his 26 points in the final frame alone. 

These teams are closer than the current market at +506 for the series dictates, so we’ll take a shot on an 8-seed upset in the opening round. 

Things to look for: With John Wall on the court I mentioned Washington is +4.3/100. That winds up being +4.03 points per game. The Raptors were +7.9/100 (90th percentile) this season and +7.42 points per game. That’s only a discrepancy of 3.39 points per game. Now there are obviously other factors that go into projecting the line, but even with the 2.98-point advantage I give Toronto for home-court, the discrepancy between these two teams is 6.37 points. I’ve already mentioned the matchup situation and the fact I believe that the Raptors biggest advantage throughout the regular season could wind up being negated some during the playoffs with the shortening of their opponents’ bench usage. The line for Game 1 right now is Wizards +8. 

This is a way to double check our work on the series numbers to an extent too. We think the Raptors are being overvalued in the series price. The actual game-to-game spreads are heavily correlated to the series pricing. We see the +8 spread and think it’s roughly 1.5-points too high. Great, we may have some opportunity to back the Wizards in certain spots throughout the series as well.

One last thing to note that I will be watching when it comes to in-game betting during this series. Otto Porter Jr. is the man, I made this pretty clear. He’s Superman when he plays the 4-spot/power forward and they go small and run Kelly Oubre Jr. at small forward alongside him. Porter Jr. lineups were +5.3/100 this season overall, but when he played power forward the Wizards were +10.1/100 (95th percentile). Going a step further, the most commonly used lineup of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and Marcin Gortat outscored opponents by +15.5/100 (95th percentile) on the year. If and when Brooks turns to this lineup, I’ll be looking to back the Wizards in-game.