New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors
Raptors -7 (-110)
Toronto is enjoying one of the greatest home court advantages in the history of professional sports. This is an edge unlike any before because it has nothing to do with a rowdy environment in the arena. The seats sit empty. However, this is exactly why Toronto is unbeatable at home. Canada’s draconian COVID measures have not only kept the fans out but have also kept out the stars of the opposing teams. If an NBA player travels to Toronto and happens to test positive for COVID, then that player must remain in Canada for two weeks. NBA teams are not necessarily protesting the Canadian government by boycotting Toronto contests, but they’re definitely not willing to risk losing their star players for two weeks.
Toronto has been great at home because they are playing G-League teams. Before every home game, the stars of the opposing team develop a sudden illness or injury that prevents them from traveling across the border. Magically, as soon as the G-league team returns to America, the stars are suddenly healthy again. The Raptors have won five of the six home games games dating back to Dec. 15 when Canada’s latest travel restrictions were put in place (ATS covers in all six). The one loss came against the 76ers, who sent their full roster because the team had already experienced a COVID outbreak. For obvious reasons, this issue is not widely addressed, but sharp bettors know what time it is.
Get on this line early because as game time approaches, more Pelicans will mysteriously pop up on the injury report, and the line will increase.
—End of original article
The problem with great stories is that they’re just stories. A good narrative is hard to actually line up with an accurate prediction. Reality can be boring. The Raptors won at home again, but they did not cover the spread. Worse than that, the Pelicans sent most of their star players to Canada because they had already caught and recovered from COVID or the more likely reason, the Pelicans just didn’t care because they are a last place team.
Although my pick was wrong, I will take solace in the fact that I am the only sportswriter discussing this issue. My platform is small and I tried to remain as subtle as possible, but it needs to be said — Canada is a problem. Canadians are too Canadian to speak up. Americans are too American to speak up for Canadians, but Americans need to take a stand when Canadian despotism — who thought that would ever be a thing — threatens to destabilize our sports.
The NBA is having a renaissance season with the new rules in place (refs aren’t calling fouls). It feels like 1980s Magic vs Bird basketball. You really should be watching on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, Canada, like out of a South Park script, is mucking it up. If they want to ruin hockey, fine, that’s their thing, but leave basketball alone.