Philadelphia at Toronto
Time: 6 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: TOR -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Toronto Raptors have won four-straight entering tonight’s ESPN matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly also has won its last four, and the Raptors are 6.5-point favorites on its home court where Toronto has fared 15-7 SU this season. The betting total is set at 217 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
PHILADELPHIA NEWS & NOTES:
The 76ers are just 9-14 on the road where it meets the Toronto Raptors tonight. The Sixers are seeded No. 5 in the East currently, with a 1/2 game lead over No. 6 Indiana. Philadelphia trails No. 2 Miami by just two games, though, as well.
Philadelphia averages 108.7 points per game, ranking No. 22 in the Association in scoring. It allows 105.0 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +3.7 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better. Embiid has also appeared in only 31 games to this point and is currently now cleared for non-contact conditioning drills. He is expected to be evaluated again in another week.
Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots, and he very rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.
It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting. It is not much different than the trajectory seen in the career of Rajon Rondo. Either add a respectable jump shot or keep launching uncontested bricks. It is up to Simmons which it is.
The Raptors were expected to regress following the loss of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and the team has started to show more signs of it in recent weeks, as winners of six of its last 10 games. The Raptors are still likely a top-4 team in the Eastern Conference, but the absence of Pascal Siakam has proved to be a lot to make up for. Serge Ibaka is up for the task as one of the best reserves forwards in the league, but Siakam’s production is simply too much to make up for. Ibaka had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the Raptors’ 121-102 victory over Brooklyn, but the absence of a true No. 1 option has made things stickier for the Raptors.
Pascal Siakam was averaging 25.1 points, eight rebounds, and 3.6 assists prior to suffering an injury to his groin. He practiced in a light on-court workout on Monday, but he is still not ready for gameplay quite yet. In his absence, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet have picked up a lot of that slack on the scoring. VanVleet is averaging 18 points and seven assists, having his finest NBA season to date. Lowry is still rock solid and consistent, with averages of 20.9 points and 7.4 assists per game. Together, the pair is a tough backcourt that has helped make up for the absence of Pascal.
OG Anunoby is rebounding after a tough year a season ago and he has averaged 11 points and six boards per game in just under 30 minutes a night. What made Toronto a great team was not Leonard, but it was Toronto’s depth, the same depth that has thus far managed a loss to its de facto leader in Siakam.