Toronto Raptors at Oklahoma City Thunder (-8.5, 199)
Whatever the problem is with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it isn’t newcomer Kevin Martin. The defending Western Conference champs have dropped two of their first three games despite strong efforts from Martin, who has taken over James Harden’s vacated role as sixth man. Looking to take advantage of the brief stumble by the Thunder will be the Toronto Raptors, who visit Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The Raptors bring some momentum and a solid backcourt into the matchup.
The Thunder struggled defensively in the second half of a home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday and did not help themselves with 21 turnovers. Martin was the bright spot off the bench and has hit 12 of 17 3-point attempts in the first three games. The Raptors have a backcourt that they believe they can build around, and the early returns from the Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan pairing are strong. The two each scored 22 points and took turns scoring and distributing in a win over Minnesota on Sunday.TV:
8 p.m. ET, TSN (Toronto), Fox Sports Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), NBATVLINE:
OKC opened at -9 and has been bet down to -8.5. The total opened at 199 points.ABOUT THE RAPTORS (1-2, 1-2 ATS):
Toronto brought in Lowry over the summer and signed DeRozan to an extension with the idea that the two could thrive together. After a bumpy first two games, those two came together against the Timberwolves on Sunday. Lowry was the main scorer during a surge in the second quarter that gave the Raptors the lead and DeRozan took over at the end. Toronto has also showed a willingness to buy into coach Dwane Casey’s defensive system, holding two of their first three opponents to 90 points or less.ABOUT THE THUNDER (1-2, 1-1-1 ATS):
Martin is not the same force on the pick-and-roll and does not get to the rim like Harden did, but he can certainly put up points in bunches. With the defense focusing on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Martin went for 28 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the 104-95 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. Defensively, Oklahoma City had trouble with Lou Williams and Jeff Teague of the Hawks and will need to correct that to stop DeRozan and Lowry. Durant has recorded a double-double in each of the first three games but has also turned the ball over 16 times.TRENDS:
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Over is 9-4 in the last 13 meetings.
* Raptors are 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Raptors are 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings in Oklahoma City.BUZZER BEATERS:
1. Martin has averaged 16.5 points on 39.0 percent shooting in 15 career games against the Raptors - his third-worst shooting percentage against any opponent.
2. The Thunder took last season’s meeting, 91-75, behind 23 points from Durant. Toronto forward Andrea Bargnani missed the second half of that game with a calf injury.
3. Lowry’s emergence has taken playing time from point guard Jose Calderon, who has seen his time drop from 25 minutes in the first game to 21 in the second and 14 in the third.