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Raptors at Nets: There’s one bet Brooklyn is paying out big on

Two days after dropping a demoralizing 114-112 decision to Oklahoma City, the Brooklyn Nets take the floor Friday against the equally dangerous Toronto Raptors.

The Nets carried an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter Wednesday, only to lose the final stanza, 39-19, to Paul George (47 points), Russell Westbrook (21 points and 17 assists), and the never-say-die Thunder. Oklahoma City won rebounding 60-45, which became huge when the Nets couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch.

Bad news for fans can still be good news for bettors. Brooklyn (+6) got the money, ending a four-game non-cover streak. And, a successful season-long “first quarter” Nets’ trend continued (one discussed recently on VSiN programming). Brooklyn won the first 12 minutes, 26-24, extending its record to a stunning 20-6 ATS in opening periods (many betting shops post point spreads for first quarters and first halves in addition to full games.)

Different coaches place different priorities on early play. Some prefer to start fast to set a tone. Others have substitution patterns more focused on pacing their teams for the full 48 minutes. Through 26 games, Brooklyn is 20-6 ATS in first quarters, but just 11-15 ATS in full games (4-10 ATS its last 14).

Toronto is coming off an impressive 113-102 win Wednesday as a six-point favorite over Eastern rival Philadelphia. That ended a three-game non-cover streak for the Raptors. Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points in the statement victory. Toronto outscored Philadelphia 28-12 on fast-break points while forcing 21 turnovers.

The potent Raptors rank third in the NBA in offensive efficiency (points per possession) despite leading scoring Leonard missing about a fourth of the schedule for rest or injuries.

Brooklyn is the only New York area team in action Friday night in the NBA or NHL.

— There’s another late-night college basketball attraction VSiN wanted to alert you to. Saturday, No. 1 Gonzaga was in the spotlight, defeating Creighton, 103-92. Friday, No. 6 Nevada will take on No. 20 Arizona State as part of the Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center in Los Angeles (ESPN2, midnight).

It was no secret that Nevada (8-0 straight up, 6-1 ATS) was loaded entering the season. It recently scored statement road wins that were comfortable covers over last March’s Dance darling Loyola-Chicago (79-65 as a four-point favorite) and USC (73-61 as an 5.5-point favorite). Nevada goes on the list with Gonzaga of highly regarded powers who offered early season betting value despite media hype.

Arizona State (7-0 straight up, 5-2 ATS) has played the softer schedule so far, but cashed two prominent tickets in Las Vegas in a Thanksgiving week tournament. The Sun Devils upset Mississippi State, 72-67, as four-point underdog, then took out Utah State, 87-82, as a 2 1/2-point favorite.

Nevada will enter with one of the most efficient offenses in the country according to Ken Pomeroy’s stat website kenpom.com (which adjusts scoring for pace and strength of opposition). Arizona State’s defense will have its hands full.

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