Fans have been spoiled by the NBA Playoffs so far this season and that trend will continue on Sunday with two more Game Sevens after Saturday’s trifecta of winner-take-all scenarios. Matinee basketball will tip off at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday when the Brooklyn Nets head north of the border for Game Seven of their series against the Toronto Raptors. After Toronto won back-to-back games to take a 3-2 lead, Deron Williams led the Nets with 23 points and three others chipped in with double figures in a convincing 97-83 win. The Raptors are a three-point favorite in Sunday’s game with a total of 189.5.
The back-and-forth series nearly took a horrible turn for the Nets in their Game Six victory as Deron Williams came up limping on a sprained left ankle. He had a noticeable limp during the postgame, so it’s clear that he won’t be 100 percent for Sunday’s affair. Jason Kidd’s public criticism of the officials in this series may have had some sort of impact as the Raptors committed 25 fouls to the Nets’ 14.
One has to wonder what kind of emotional and physical state the Raptors are in at this point in the series. They blew a 26-point third quarter lead in Game Five but managed to slip away with a two-point win in the final minute. They were never even in the game on Friday because the Nets started the game hot and opened up a 21-point lead before halftime.
The pressure seems to be on the younger Raptors, who haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. The Raptors have only one player with more than 10 years of NBA experience and most of the guys with less than that haven’t had much postseason experience. The Nets have seven players with more than 10 years of NBA experience and plenty of playoff experience.
DeMar DeRozan will have to be on top of his game for the Raptors to have any shot in Game Seven. He has been the team’s only consistent scoring threat, with at least 23 points in each of the last five games. The Nets used their paint presence to get a big edge in Game Six, outscoring the Raptors 34-10 in the painted area during the first half. The Raptors closed the gap in the second half, but the Nets held a 46-32 edge. Along with the interior presence on offense, it was the first game that the Nets outrebounded the Raptors, which was one of the edges that the Raptors had in this series.
Looking ahead to Game Seven, the health of Deron Williams has to be taken into account. He’s faced ankle problems in the past, but he has been the catalyst all series long for the Nets. He’s the creator and it’ll be up to him to control the game and the tempo in what is sure to be a raucous crowd at Air Canada Centre.
Home teams entered Saturday’s action with a 91-23 record in Game Seven situations. In the current 2-2-1-1-1 NBA seven-game series playoff format, home teams are 10-4 in the seventh game of the series. Favorites have a record of 17-9 ATS and the home team is 11-5 straight up after a Game Six loss.
The Raptors have been a resilient bunch of late, posting an 18-6-2 ATS record following their last 26 losses. However, they are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven as a favorite of 0.5-4.5 points at home and have not covered in their last six as a home favorite. The Nets are 6-2 ATS in their last eight following a win by 10 or more points and are 21-8 ATS in their last 29 with one day of rest.
NBA Free Pick: Toronto Raptors
Deron Williams’s health casts a black cloud over this game for the Nets. Everything goes through him and whether the Raptors pressure him to put emphasis on the ankle or force the ball out of his hands, that’s a positive either way. With a very loud crowd in support of the team looking for its first trip to the next round since 2001, youthful energy and the sixth man will rule the day in Toronto.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.