Mark Kirwan previews three of Sunday night's NBA matches including the Raptors at a possibly Kyrie Irving-less Celtics, which is live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Video...
"The Raptors need to start seizing opportunities like this if they’re to be a serious contender."
Everything hinges on Irving for Boston
Toronto Raptors @ Boston Celtics
Sunday, 20:30 GMT
Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
The line on the Raptors has been 'they will beat the teams they should beat and lose to those they should lose to', and so it is proving this season. Three of Toronto's four losses this season have come against the Warriors, Spurs and Wizards, and only a road loss to Denver would rank as an upset. All their wins have been over teams that, before the season, they would've expected to beat. The Washington loss, however, must count as a disappointing result as John Wall was absent and they were still comprehensively beaten on their home court.
Boston are also living up to their preseason expectations, if not exceeding them. They've barely broken stride in compiling an 11-0 record since their opening two losses, and Kyrie Irving is forcing himself into the MVP discussion given the way he's settled into his role as the leader of the Celtics. Injuries are accumulating with each win, however, and Kyrie's possible absence from this game due to facial fracture suffered on Friday will pile pressure on the likes of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who've seen increased roles following Gordon Hayward and Al Horford's injuries.
Given all the injuries, and that the Raptors need to start seizing opportunities like this if they're to be a serious contender, it is hard not to like the Raptors in this spot at around [1.85] on the Moneyline market.
Back Toronto Raptos on the Moneyline market at [1.85]
Offensive weapons points to a big score in Indianapolis
Houston Rockets @ Indiana Pacers
Sunday, 23:05 GMT
Live on Betfair Video
Houston are a work in progress thanks to Chris Paul's injury and the line-ups they've had to field this season, but they still sit at the top of the West on 10-3 with the Warriors. James Harden continues to be the heart-beat of the team offensively, and they've sharpened their defensive play through the opening games this season, knocking almost ten points off their opponents average scores from last season.
They may need to be on their game defensively against a Pacers team who have been surprisingly powerful on offence this season. Victor Oladipo has continued to score at pace, averaging 23 points per game and shooting .45 from three-point range, while all five Pacers starters are scoring in double digits through 13 games. The reason they are 6-7 is they've allowed too many points, and their recent four-game losing streak saw opponents score comfortably over 100 points in each game.
Both sides have been inconsistent against the spread this season, and Houston tend not to cover in the second game of back-to-back situations. The Total Points market looks a more reliable option given both team's offensive play, over 222.5 points at [1.99] on the Exchange is a reasonable play.
Back Over on the U/O 222.5pts market at [1.99]
Big points total likely as Thunder go to Dallas
Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Monday, 00:05 GMT
Live on Betfair Video
OKC have removed a monkey from their collective back with their 120-111 win over the Clippers on Friday. This was their first win over a Western Conference team this season, with losses to the lowly Kings and middling Nuggets immediately preceding it. Paul George scored 42 points, Russell Westbrook had 22 points and eight assists, and Melo contributed as well. It was their first win in four, and is hopefully this is a sign of things to come if they are to challenge.
Their second Western Conference win should arrive tonight. They face a 2-11 Mavericks who have Dirk Nowitski averaging his lowest points per game total since his rookie season. Harrison Barnes is their leading scorer with 18 points per game, and Dallas are playing back-to-back games, their spirited loss to the Cavs in Cleveland showing they can put up a challenge to better teams. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr is a bright spot in an otherwise dark opening to the season.
Given recent form, it is difficult to trust the Thunder -12 on the handicap, so the over on the 206.5 Total Points market is probably a safer play, as Dallas are averaging just under 100 points per game, and OKC should win at home.
Back Over on the U/O 206.5pts market at [1.94]