Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

(Straight Up – SU, Against the Spread – ATS)

Game of the Night (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)
Golden State (15-7 SU, 9-13 ATS) at Toronto (18-4 SU, 11-10-1 ATS)

Thursday’s matchup from the Scotiabank Arena could very well be a preview of next summer’s NBA Finals as both the Raptors (2/1) and Warriors (1/2) are listed as favorites to win the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively.

Unfortunately for tonight, this game won’t have as much drama since Golden State is still dealing with key injuries but nonetheless, I expect Toronto to make a statement.

Tony Mejia, senior writer and handicapper of, offered up his thoughts on the game.

He said, “The Warriors have lost their last four road games and spent most of November at Oracle, leaving the state only for that ill-fated Texas trip that produced three setbacks. While Stephen Curry could return as early as this contest, Steve Kerr says it’s more likely that he’ll be returning on Saturday against Detroit, so the degree of difficulty intensifies against the team with the league’s best record. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green should make life difficult for Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson as catalysts right out of the gate and the Raps have a lot of length to throw at both of those guys to keep them from finding a rhythm. Three of the four occasions in which Golden State has failed to reach 100 points have come on the road.”

Curry (groin) is expected to miss and the global outfit [...] opened Toronto as a heavy eight-point home favorite over Golden State. The line has already been pushed up to nine and 9 ½ at a few betting shops.

Toronto has won six straight games and that includes a 122-114 victory over Memphis on Monday as a 5 ½-point road favorite. The Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to earn the win and cover, something they've done well on the road (9-2 SU, 6-4-1 ATS) this season. 

At home, the Raptors have gone 9-2 as well but they haven’t been profitable for bettors (5-6 ATS). Offensively, they’re ranked third in scoring at 117 points per game and second in field goal percentage (49.3%). Golden State is first in shooting (49.4%) and fifth in scoring (116 PPG) but the absence of Curry has certainly been felt outside of the Bay Area.

Without the All-Star, the Warriors have gone 5-5 and they enter this game on a three-game winning streak. As Mejia mentioned, the road numbers (0-4) haven’t been good without Curry and the depth issue should play a factor in this game. Toronto has five players averaging double figures and the Kawhi Leonard (24.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG) has been more than successful. Through 22 games last season, Toronto was 15-7 and this year's squad is on pace to win 60-plus games. 

The Warriors have gone 7-1 (4-4 ATS) versus the East this season and the ‘over’ has gone 6-2 in those games with Golden State averaging 116.9 points per game. The lone loss came to the Milwaukee Bucks (134-111) at home. The Raptors also own a 7-1 non-conference record (3-4-1 ATS) with the only setback coming to the Pelicans at home.

Golden State has won eight straight (3-4-1 ATS) in this series and four in a row at Canada. The Warriors were favored in all of those games and bettors should note that this year’s Golden State squad has been listed as an underdog three times this season and it’s 0-3 both SU and ATS. Also, the ‘under’ has cashed easily in all of those games as well.

The total for tonight is hovering between 226 and 227. Golden State (12-10) and Toronto (15-7) have both leaned to the 'over' this season and the home/away numbers for the Raptors (9-2 Over) and Warriors (6-3 Over) have also shown strong tendencies to the high side.  

Along with the top matchup between two contenders, there are two late-night games and below is my quick handicap.

Indiana (13-8 SU, 10-10-1 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (11-9 SU, 7-13 ATS)

The late-night TNT double-header is a nice non-conference matchup from the Staples Center. The Lakers (-4 ½) will try to snap a two-game losing skid while the Pacers will look to improve to 3-0 on their current four-game road trip.

Indiana blew the doors off Utah 121-88 on Sunday and escaped trouble on Monday with 109-104 win at Phoenix. While the Pacers are a solid club and certainly a team to watch in the playoffs, the oddsmakers have had a nice pulse on them. Indiana is 2-4 both SU and ATS as a road ‘dog this season, and it’s just 2-5 against teams at .500 and above. The ‘bully’ label is certainly in play when you see that they’re 11-3 against teams below .500. They did just beat the Jazz on Sunday but Utah and maybe Boston have been two of the biggest disappointments this season. Can the Pacers steal one at the Lakers?

Unlike Indiana, Los Angeles has been good versus teams above .500 (6-4) but it’s still weak on defense (113 PPG) and it can’t buy a shot from 3-point land (34.7%). They’re ranked in the bottom third of the league in both those categories, while the Pacers (102.2 PPG) are ranked second in scoring defense and fifth from distance (37.6%).

The Lakers aren’t in great form offensively, scoring 100.2 PPG in their last five games and that’s led to a 5-0 ‘under’ run. When you factor in the current play and the opponent, it’s tough to make a case for a Los Angeles team that has been pedestrian at home (6-4 SU, 3-7 ATS). And for whatever reason, the club has struggled against teams from the Eastern Conference (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS) at the Staples Center.

The home team has won four straight games in this series and three of the victories came by double digits. The ‘under’ is 3-1 during this span.

L.A. Clippers (14-6 SU, 13-7 ATS) at Sacramento (10-10 SU, 12-7-1 ATS)

Surprising starts by both clubs and while I believe both will taper off as the season progresses, you have to be impressed with the pair. For this matchup, the public will lean to the Clippers (-2) because the line is short and they’re clearly the more talented than Kings.  We all know it’s not that simple and there are reasons to fade or follow both clubs. What’s stood out this season for me on Los Angeles is its great record as a favorite (10-1 SU, 9-2 ATS). The point-spread has only mattered in one game and with this line being so short, it’s unlikely to play a factor on Thursday.

L.A. is playing this game on no rest after it defeated the Suns 115-99 last night as a 12-point home favorite. The Clippers have gone 1-1 both SU and ATS in that role this season. If you look at the Clippers production on the road (5-5 SU, 5-5 ATS), and they’ve pulled some wild wins out of their hat too, you could be hesitant to back them here as well. 

Sacramento has been decent at the Golden 1 Center this season, going 5-4 SU and 6-2-1 ATS but their recent form could have you pumping the breaks in this game. The Kings are 2-4 in their last six and the defense has surrendered 119.5 PPG during this span, which has directly attributed to a 6-0 ‘over’ mark. Thursday’s total opened at 235 and they haven’t seen a number this high since early November.

Kevin Rogers, one of our top NBA experts, gave me this nugget on the Kings. He said, "Sacramento hasn't dropped three consecutive losses this season, in fact they are 3-0 off back-to-back losses this season."

Those numbers are confirmed and Sacramento has posted some crooked numbers (131, 121, 117) in those three games.

This will be the first meeting between the pair this season. The Clippers have gotten the better of the Kings recently, sweeping last year’s encounters (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS) but the two road wins came by a combined eight points. The ‘over’ went 3-1.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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