Canelo Alvarez puts his four super middleweight titles on the line for a shot at becoming the first-ever undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history. In his way is Caleb Plant who holds the IBF title and is looking to shock the world as a 6-1 underdog. This will either be easy work for Canelo or we’re all in on for the upset of the year.
NBA 2021-22 Opening Picks: Rock The New Look Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are back in Canada as they kick off their 2021-22 NBA season in the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. It’s good to be back as they host the Washington Wizards as betting favourites. We preview the Raptors’ upcoming season plus two more NBA games for the opening day.
The rebuilding Toronto Raptors are in the midst of a rocky season as they will learn to figure things out without the “GROAT” (greatest Raptor of all time), Kyle Lowry. Per the top online sportsbooks, Toronto is somewhere between 15th to 21st when it comes to the NBA title picture:
|2021-22 NBA Championship Odds|
Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
How the New Look Raptors Could Fare This Year
One glimpse at the odds and we know this new look Raptors team may be the worst team Toronto will roll out since before the Kyle Lowry era in 2013. The Raptors went 23-43 in a shortened season and would have picked 12th in NBA Draft had they not traded that pick as part of the Lowry deal.
Now, the Raptors are longshots to win the NBA title and are expected to win around 35.5 games on the sportsbooks, although heavy action has come on the over.
Toronto has usually been underestimated and this team has cashed on the win totals going over in nine of the last ten seasons. Last season was when they finally went below their win projections largely due to injuries and not having any homecourt advantage.
But Toronto will miss Lowry greatly, even if they had a better record (12-14) without him than with him (15-31) last season. Lowry’s leadership, defence, and three-point shooting will be tough to replace.
Point guard Fred VanVleet will now be the Raptors’ defacto leader. The 27-year-old is the same age as Lowry was when he arrived in Toronto and is coming off a career-high 19.6 points per game. However, he is one of a few Raptors who can shoot the rock consistently.
The offence will be an Achilles Heel for this team that features plenty of long and athletic players like All-Star Pascal Siakam, budding star OG Anunoby, and fourth-overall pick Scottie Barnes.
But defensively, expect Toronto to be a top-ten unit. This young team is in the midst of a rebuild so things can get ugly before it gets pretty. Still, a shot at the play-ins is possible as is making the playoffs at 2.85 per SportsInteraction (SIA).
The Best Opening NBA Games
The first three days of the NBA season are already lined on the sportsbooks: all 16 games. The Raptors return to the Scotiabank Arena for the first time in over 20 months and will be taking on the Washington Wizards:
Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors (Wed, Oct. 20)
- Point Spread: Washington +3.5 (1.91), Toronto -3.5 (1.91)
- Moneyline: Washington 2.31, Toronto 1.86
- Over/Under: Over 221.0 (1.91), Under 221.0 (1.91)
Like the Raptors, the Wizards have a new look as well. Gone is superstar guard Russell Westbrook and in are former Lakers Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. Toronto is 9-1 in its last ten meetings against Washington, but only 5-4-1 against the spread (ATS).
Wizards’ star Bradley Beal is posting 23.8 points with a 116 offensive rating, the second-highest he’s posting against opposing teams. Toronto went 18-11-0 ATS as home favourites in the 2019-20 season. However, it will need to find ways to outscore the potentially explosive Wizards.
Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks (Tue, Oct. 19)
- Point Spread: Brooklyn -1.5 (1.91), Milwaukee +1.5 (1.91)
- Moneyline: Brooklyn 1.83, Milwaukee 2.00
- Over/Under: Over 240.5 (1.91), Under 240.5 (1.91)
The Eastern semi-finals pit two of the top three teams this season. The Brooklyn Nets, with or without Kyrie Irving, are favoured to spoil the Bucks’ championship glow. Milwaukee went 36-11 at home last season, the fourth-best record in the NBA while Brooklyn was just 21-20 as a visitor.
Milwaukee also went a perfect 5-0 against Brooklyn at home last season. If the championship hangover is a real thing, the Bucks could start sluggish and Brooklyn could start strong and never look back. But as the better defensive team with homecourt advantage, Milwaukee is a lively underdog here.
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers (Tue, Oct. 19)
- Point Spread: Golden State +5.0 (1.91), LA Lakers -5.0 (1.91)
- Moneyline: Golden State 2.57, LA Lakers 1.53
- Over/Under: Over 230.5 (1.91), Under 230.5 (1.91)
The top Western contenders meet directly after Brooklyn and Milwaukee. The Lakers are 4-1 against Golden State in its last four games and 3-2 ATS. Los Angeles reconstructed itself and all but three players from last season return with former MVP Russell Westbrook being the team’s most notable newbie.
Steph Curry and Draymond Green should keep the Warriors afloat on offence and defence, respectively. But still, without Klay Thompson, Golden State will be outgunned again. The Warriors went 8-16-0 ATS as road underdogs, the fourth-worst spread record last season.
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