Philadelphia at Toronto
Time: 6:30 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: TOR -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Both the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors lost its game 1 matchup against a lower seed in round one. Both teams then won the next four games to complete 4-1 series victories over the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic, respectively. Now the third-seeded Sixers face the Raptors in a seven-game series which Toronto owns home-court advantage in. The Raps are also 6.5-point favorites in Game 1, which will tip-off at 6:30 PM CT on TNT.
it appeared these teams might struggle with their lower-seeded opponents in round one, but ultimately the talent of the Sixers was just too great for Brooklyn, and the Magic had no answer for Toronto over the course of 48-minute games. Now the teams face each other instead, and this series should be fairly closely contested despite the Raps being listed as 6.5 point favorites in the opener. Toronto does boast the best player in the series in Kawhi Leonard, while the Raps also have a better frontcourt in general with Pascal Siakem, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol comprising a very talented four-man rotation. Toronto also has depth in its backcourt with Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell both occasionally playing major roles in second unit scoring runs.
The Sixers have probably one of the best top-four combos in the league after adding Tobias Harris to the extant trio of Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid. Embiid has battled knee soreness, but he has been brilliant in the games and minutes which he has appeared. Philly also is 1-0 without Embiid after winning while he took a game off to rest his joints. Even with an ailing Embiid, the Sixers have one of the best reserve big men in 7’5” Boban Marjanovic, an able shooter and guy who can dunk without leaving his feet.
The Raptors are the more disciplined team and if Kyle Lowry shows up in top form it has to be figured that Toronto is favored here, but the Sixers are going to pay close attention to how the Raps choose to defend Ben Simmons. Ideally, either Leonard or Siakem draws the assignment, but if Simmons can get either or both into foul trouble there is really no other Raptors particularly up to the challenge of covering Ben.
These teams are fairly equal in talent, but Toronto seems to have both better chemistry and more synergy, particularly with Philly using Harris a little out of his comfort zone. Harris is a scorer who functions best in pick and roll sets, which is something the Sixers do precious little of. Whether he can adjust to a different role than the point-forward-level of usage he has seen in the past, also remains to be seen. Butler makes his impact defensively and gets involved, but Harris’ play, much like his role, has been less consistent.
Bottom Line: Toronto wins this series, and it could easily go seven.