76ers vs. Raptors Odds
|Moneyline||-150 / +130|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Sunday morning and via PointsBet.|
Two teams trending upwards clash on Sunday in Tampa, with the Toronto Raptors playing host to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors will look to extend their unbeaten streak without starting point guard Kyle Lowry and win their fourth straight, while the Sixers will be looking to create a winning streak of their own after back-to-back wins.
On the back of a 50-point effort on Friday, can Joel Embiid continue to dominate against a strong frontcourt? Or will it be the shooting of Toronto that breaks through against the Sixers’ perimeter defense?
Let’s examine the matchup further to see if we can find some value here.
Philadelphia hasn’t had any issues of late despite missing Ben Simmons. The star point guard has been held out of the last two games due to an illness, but the Sixers have responded with back-to-back wins over the Rockets and Bulls.
Simmons once again enters this contest with a probable tag — something that didn’t stop Philly from scratching him prior to Friday’s game — so the news is hardly anything to get excited about, but his inclusion in the lineup would only go to further boost the team’s renewed confidence.
And that’s not all for good news. Sunday is expected to mark the return of Shake Milton, who is listed as probable against the Raptors after missing five straight games due to an ankle injury. Milton’s absence brought about an immediate three-game losing streak as the Sixers struggled to replace his steady offensive contributions off the bench, and now with him and (hopefully) Simmons back in the fold, Philly’s backcourt will be 100% healthy.
The Sixers have been able to shrug off both injuries thanks to the unguardable Joel Embiid, who is coming off a 50-point game against Chicago and has now averaged 35 points in the month of February. He’ll put this hot streak to the test against the second-best paint defense in the league, averaging just 40.9 points in the area.
One thing working against Philly in this one will be the physical location of the game. The Sixers enjoyed yet another ATS win at home against Chicago last time out, but they’ve had a much more adverse time on the road. For the season, their record sits at just 5-9-1 away from the Wells Fargo Center.
From one team missing its starting point guard lately, to another. Toronto, like Philly, has been without its leader in Lowry for the past two games, which both resulted in victories. In fact, it marked the fifth win in five games without Lowry — all of which came with covers against the spread. The big difference here is that Lowry is still listed as doubtful with his thumb injury, while Simmons is expected to suit up.
The reason Toronto has had so much success without Lowry likely lies in its 3-point shooting. Only three teams in the league fancy the 3-ball more than the Raptors, and the absence of Lowry has tended to get the ball into the hands of their best shooters.
According to our On/Off tool, OG Anunoby has seen the biggest jump in usage without Lowry at +3.5%, followed by Fred VanVleet (3.1%) and Norm Powell (1.1%). Powell happens to be the best 3-point shooter on the team at over 44%, and Anunoby has shot over 40% as well. VanVleet, to his credit, isn’t far behind at 37.2%.
The bottom line? While this team can do lots of great things on defense, it lives and dies by the 3. Getting the ball into the hands of their shooters and launching more shots from deep has seemed to be a winning formula.
It’ll be a matchup worth watching against a Sixers 3-point defense which ranks right in the middle of the pack with a 36.6% mark.
The Raptors, as always, are going to need to see the 3-ball fall in order to have a fighting chance in this one. They’re just 5-11 straight up this season in games which they shoot under 39% from 3.
Well, the Sixers’ 3-point defense has been tight enough to get the job done lately, allowing just a hair over 36% of shots to fall from distance over the last 10 games, and adding Simmons back into the fold will only strengthen Philly’s perimeter defense.
While the Sixers should be able to neutralize Toronto’s shooting somewhat, the Raptors can counter with one of the best paint defenses in the NBA to try and take Embiid out of the occasion. Given the fact that the Bulls had Wendell Carter Jr. active on Friday, and still allowed 50 to Embiid, it may not matter how good this team has been around the rim all season long.
While Philly’s road woes are real, the Raptors haven’t exactly played well at home in Tampa this year with a 4-8 ATS record. Given the advantage either team would have based on where the game’s being played will be wiped out by its own shortcomings, and both teams matching up incredibly well to take away the opponent’s weakness, I’m going to have to simply go with the strongest force on the floor.
That’s Joel Embiid, and there’s no doubt about it. The Sixers pick up a rare road win ATS.
Pick: Sixers -1.5 (Up to -2.5)
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