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Red hot Raptors host Boston Celtics as slim 1.5 favorites in the NBA

Daniel Coyle, American Sports Correspondent | March 18, 2016

Boston Celtics will be seeking to halt a three-game straight up losing streak and keep pace with the surging Atlanta Hawks in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings, when they visit Toronto Raptors on Friday as 1.5-point underdogs in NBA betting with Coral.

Boston have cooled off considerably since embarking on a 16-4 SU run that briefly lifted them into third place in the East. The club has lost four of five since, and enters Friday night’s Celtics vs. Raptors match-up at Air Canada Centre trailing Hawks by a half-game, and deadlocked with Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets in fourth spot in the conference.

Celtics Pacers Basketball

Celtics have also encountered hardship at the sportsbook, failing to post an against the spread in five of their past six, and nine of their past 15, ending an impressive 10-4-1 ATS run in American basketball betting at Coral.

While, Raptors (7/1 to win the Eastern Conference) rolled to their 11th SU win in their past 14 on Thursday night, downing Indiana Pacers in a 101-94 overtime victory, and claiming their second straight as 1.5-point road underdogs.

That win moves Toronto to within two games of Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings, with just 15 games remaining in the regular season schedule.

Raptors Bucks Basketball

Friday night’s contest marks the first of two clashes between these two teams over the next five days, with the rivals meeting again at TD Garden next Wednesday.

Raptors claimed SU and ATS wins in two previous meetings this season, and have dominated in Boston in recent years, going 8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS, over their past 11.

Hawks and Hornets on the rise in the East

Meanwhile, Hawks are off until Saturday night when they host Houston Rockets. Atlanta have won four straight SU, and nine of their last 11, to power their way back into playoff contention in the East, after mediocre play had put them at risk of missing the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Their current tear has been accompanied by some big success at the sportsbook, covering in nine of their past 11, including a 116-98 victory over Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, in which they were pegged as 8-point chalk.

Hawks’ recent strong play has also boosted their NBA futures odds at Coral, with the club now pegged as a 16/1 bet to win the Eastern Conference, but still lagging on the NBA Championship odds, where they remain stalled at 50/1.

Nuggets Hawks Basketball

North Carolina’s Charlotte is also off until Saturday, when they play host to the Nuggets. Hornets have been a revelation this season, entering the weekend with a 39-29 SU record that puts them on pace to win 47 games, their highest win total since the NBA returned to Carolina in 2004.

Charlotte has won an eye-popping 20 of their past 25 games, and are 10-1 SU in their previous 11 at home. However, the club is just 7-5 ATS in their past 12 dates at Time Warner Cable Arena, including ATS losses in their last two, and have just five home games remaining on their schedule.

In other NBA action on Friday, Oklahoma City Thunder gun for a third straight win when they visit Philadelphia 76ers as 15.5-point chalk.

Thunder Celtics Basketball

Cavaliers visit Orlando Magic as 8.5-point favourites, and Rockets host Minnesota Timberwolves, also as 8.5-point chalk. While, Portland Trail Blazers look to break out of a brief two-game losing streak when they visit New Orleans Pelicans as narrow 1.5-point favourites.

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