The Toronto Raptors (17-44) and New Jersey Nets (17-43) are not exactly the ideal matchup for the first of two NBA games between the teams on Friday at London’s O2 Arena. But at least the Nets (-2.5) and Raptors have nearly identical records and should be able to showcase the world’s best professional basketball league for the British fans in attendance.
New Jersey was worried that newly-acquired point guard Deron Williams would not be able to play due to a sore right wrist and left hand injury that have both been bothering him lately. But Williams will not miss this opportunity to end a six-game series losing streak against Toronto overseas. He hopes to return to London next summer for the Olympics as part of Team USA.
“I plan to be back over here for the Olympics,” Williams said. “Hopefully get my second gold medal.”
Williams has done plenty of traveling off the court over the last week since being dealt from Utah to the Nets prior to the NBA trade deadline. He joined the team in San Antonio during a three-game road trip and then went to Houston before playing his first home game in New Jersey on Monday, a 104-103 overtime loss to Phoenix. The OVER has cashed in each of his first three games with the Nets, as they are averaging a little over 102 points per game with him. Williams is averaging 14 points and nearly 16 assists per game, numbers Jason Kidd would be proud of.
Kidd used to battle Toronto in the playoffs when he was an All-Star in New Jersey, but now both teams are far from that level of play. The Nets are riding a six-game losing streak, going 2-4 against the spread. The Raptors have dropped 11 in a row on the road, failing to cover their last seven away from home.
Toronto is 2-3 both SU and ATS since the All-Star break, beating a pair of potential playoff teams in Chicago (118-113) and New Orleans (96-90) at home. The Raptors got a game-high 22 points and 16 assists from Spanish point guard Jose Calderon, who knows what it is like to travel long distances between the United States and Europe.
“Always the first day, it’s kind of tough when you arrive in Europe after the flight,” Calderon said. “But we’ll be OK – we just got to practice a little bit, sweat, get a good night’s sleep, and from there we’ll be ready for Friday.”
The UNDER has cashed in the last three meetings, all of which Toronto has won and covered. The total has also gone UNDER in two of the past three games for the Raptors overall. With jetlag a definite possibility, a low-scoring affair might be the best bet of this game, with both teams scheduled to play again on Saturday before returning home to the United States.
Top expert pick on today’s card: Friday’s great card is highlighted by Perfect Play from Stevie Vincent, which means a stat that is 100 percent with at least 12 games. The top angle in each contest is a combined 49-3. Unlike touts on inferior sites, we don’t make claims we can’t back up. You get the exact angles unlocked inside the plays. Every top service pick is on OffshoreInsiders.com.
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