Since entering the starting lineup in his return to the Raptors, Jakob Poeltl is averaging 15.5 points per game on a wildly efficient 73.2% shooting. With his point total set at a measly 11.5, we’re expecting him to go Over once again.
The Toronto Raptors visit the Washington Wizards on Thursday night in what could be a potential play-in matchup in the Eastern Conference come April.
The Raptors are currently in ninth place while the Wizards sit in 10th in the East. However, after winning eight of its last 10 games, Toronto has its sights set higher than the play-in.
And even though they are slight road chalk in this matchup, the Raptors can’t overlook a Wizards team that has won five of eight and is gaining confidence as the season moves along.
I break down this battle of Eastern foes and bring you the best bet in my NBA picks and predictions for Raptors vs. Wizards below.
Raptors vs Wizards best odds
Raptors vs Wizards picks and predictions
The Raptors are now 5-1 straight up with “Jake Puddle” in the lineup, and the lone loss was a pretty obvious schedule spot loss in what was the second part of a back-to-back against a strong Cavaliers squad.
Poeltl does a lot for the Raptors. They finally have a rim protector and with him manning the paint, Toronto ranks eighth in defensive rating during his six games as a starter. Offensively, he’s great in the pick-and-roll with Pascal Siakam or Fred VanVleet. He’s also a solid passer with good vision and spaces the floor for his teammates.
It also hasn’t hurt that he’s given the Raptors something else they didn’t have: reliable scoring down low. He’s averaging 15.5 points per game on 73.2% shooting in his six games as a starter.
So, it’s interesting to see his point total for this matchup set at 11.5. He’s gone Over that number in four of his last five games, scoring at least 13 in those four contests. And he’s done it against teams with interior presence: Orlando, New Orleans, and Cleveland.
Tonight, he goes up against a Wizards team that’s been OK at best when it comes to containing big men. Washington ranks 20th in the NBA in opponent points in the paint and 17th in points allowed to opposing centers.
In recent games, they allowed 13 points to Atlanta’s Clint Capela, 14 to Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic 14, and 17 to Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert.
Jake Puddle might be the key to unlocking this Raptors’ roster, and tonight the impact will be felt in the points column.
My best bet: Jakob Poeltl Over 11.5 points (-120 at PointsBet)
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Raptors vs Wizards spread analysis
The Raptors are coming off a victory over the Bulls on Tuesday night where that new and improved defense shone, holding Chicago to just 98 points, and helping Toronto cover the 3.5-point spread. It was the team’s eighth win in their last 10 games.
Tonight, the Raps will be laying points in a second straight Eastern Conference matchup. They opened as 1-point favorites and have been bet to Toronto -2 as of Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, Washington is coming off a big 119-116 win over the Hawks on Tuesday, and now Kristaps Porzingis is expected to return to the court after a two-game absence.
The Wizards are an interesting team. They aren’t overly good or bad at anything in particular. They rank 15th in offensive rating and 19th in defensive rating. Bradley Beal is also playing his best basketball of the season, putting up 26.8 points on 53% shooting in February. So, it makes sense oddsmakers think this will be a tight matchup.
So, in a tight matchup, a few small edges can be the difference and the Raptors have a couple.
One: they lead the NBA in both turnover rate and steals per game. While the Wizards rank 16th in turnover rate. Toronto also ranks fourth in offensive rebounding rate while Washington is 15th in defensive rebounding rate.
To me, that equates to a few extra possessions for the Raptors in what should be a tight game. I’d take a look at Toronto on the moneyline tonight.
Raptors vs Wizards Over/Under analysis
The total for this Eastern Conference clash hit the board at 224.5 and the early money has come in on the Under, moving the number down to 222.5 and I’d have to agree with the early money.
The Raptors look like a completely different team with Poeltl starting. Not only do they rank eighth in defensive rating, but they also rank seventh in scoring defense, giving up 108 points per game with Jake Puddle starting.
But while things have looked up for the Raptors with Poeltl as their starting center, they’re still working out the kinks on offense. Toronto has had one of the worst half-court offenses in the NBA all season long, ranking next-to-last in effective field goal percentage.
And despite the Wizards’ offense performing a little better of late, this team still ranks 19th in the NBA in scoring, putting up 113.1 points per game. And their best offensive outputs of late have come against lesser defenses.
In recent matchups against Chicago, New York, and Cleveland, they’ve averaged 94 points, with the Under going 3-0 in those matchups. No official play for me but I would lean Under.
Raptors vs Wizards betting trend to know
The Under is 4-0 in the Raptors’ last four overall and 4-1 in the Wizards’ last five overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Raptors vs. Wizards.
Raptors vs Wizards game info
|Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
|Thursday, March 2, 2023
|7:00 p.m. ET