Toronto Raptors +2 @ Phoenix Suns (-118)
A composite of the output of the two simulation programs we employ plus a power rankings factor highlights the Raptors as the likely victors outright and against the spread when the birds of prey travel to US Airways Center this evening to do battle with the Phoenix Suns.
The most skeptical factor simulated this game several thousand times and has Toronto winning straight up by a bit more than 2 points on average. Adding the two point spread gets us in the ballpark of the 5 point margin we look for. The other inputs each offer in excess of the 5 point buffer we generally require to justify taking a position.
For our money, Toronto is one of the top three teams in the NBA today. The Raptors dropped their last two games, both straight up and against the number, BUT these losses came on on the road against the Blazers and the Warriors -- the other top three teams in the league.
Phoenix has developed some swagger lately. The Suns are 7-3 in their last 10 outings, with a narrow win vs the Mavs and a victory at the Wizards highlighting the streak. However the stars have dropped two in a row, with both losses coming at the hands of winning teams. And while the Suns do boast the fourth-most prolific offense in the game, they also give up the third most points in the NBA.
Bottom line: While we acknowledge the progress Phoenix has made over the last couple of weeks, do not expect that the Johnny-come-lately Suns are equipped to contend with the steady-Eddie Toronto Raptors, who have been winning all season long. Toronto lost two in a row on one other occasion this year. The Raptors pounced on the then 9-9 Sacramento Kings in the road game that followed. Circumstances today look more similar than not, thus we are betting the better team plus the points. We are buying up to +2 to satisfy our 'five point cushion' rule, but would not be surprised to see the Raptors win comfortably.