Don't look now but the Toronto Raptors are one of the hottest betting teams in the NBA with five straight covered spreads heading into Friday night's home game against the Orlando Magic.
It's a heartwarming holiday turnaround for the bettor who takes the Raps every night. Toronto was previously just 9-13 against the number before the streak.
So why is the money rolling in lately?
Personnel has a lot to do with it. Jose Calderon has seen his minutes increase dramatically over the past five games since Kyle Lowry went out six games ago with a triceps injury. The offense finally seems to have some rhythm to it.
Calderon is averaging 14.4 points and nine assists over the past five games. He averaged just eight points and 4.1 assists in the seven games previous with reduced minutes - a stretch where the Raptors went 2-5 against the spread.
Andrea Bargnani has also been out of the lineup the past five games, a guy who's created some distractions lately and who's been the subject of trade rumors this season. He ranks second on the team in points per game but doesn't rebound aggressively for a 7-footer, and can be dead weight on defense.
Forward Ed Davis and center Amir Johnson have filled in with more minutes and better play on both fronts, even though it may not be completely obvious in the box scores in Johnson's case.
“Big-time plays,” was what coach Dwane Casey told reporters after Wednesday's win over Detroit. “Finding a way to win, not just scoring points but (Johnson) found a way to get a stop. (He) dove on the floor a couple of times to beat them to the ball."
The most recent return to the Raps lineup, Alan Anderson, brings a 3-point threat that opens the floor. Anderson returned four games ago after missing 17 straight and has led Toronto in 3-pointers made each of the past three games.
Put it all together and you have a team playing more cohesively at both ends of the floor. Oddsmakers are starting to catch up with Toronto though. Toronto was a 3.5-point favorite against Orlando on Friday morning with the total set at 187.