In a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview, Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers is set to tip off the Thursday slate in the NBA. Both teams enter this matchup on losing streaks, with the Raptors losing three straight contests and the Sixers losing their last two. But one team has to win this game, which will mean that both teams are going to give this matchup everything they’ve got to get back on the right side of things.
These are two teams whose strengths are very different, with the Sixers relying on one of the best big men in the game to get their offense going. The Raptors, meanwhile, have incredible balance and can beat teams at virtually every position on the court. The team that imposes their preferred style of play is going to have a huge advantage as they look to pick up their first win in several games in this Atlantic Division showdown.
Toronto Raptors – Work To Be Done
The Toronto Raptors come into Thursday night in Philadelphia having won each of their last three games. On Wednesday, they were beaten convincingly by the Boston Celtics, with the Raptors failing to score 90 points in a double-digit defeat for Toronto. In this game, the Raptors will have to overcome playing on back to back nights, in addition to overcoming the struggles that they have encountered over the last week or so.
During their three-game losing streak, the Raptors have failed to break 105 points in any of those games. When the Raptors are at their best offensively, they are moving the ball and getting good looks from the perimeter. But that hasn’t worked for them of late, and the Raptors will have to play a much sharper 48 minutes of basketball if they want to avoid a fourth straight defeat and a second straight loss to a division opponent.
Expected Line-Up: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam
with best odds
Philadelphia 76ers – Awaiting Their Weapons
The Philadelphia 76ers have lost their last two games, but extenuating circumstances have had a lot to do with that. They have been without Joel Embiid periodically due to nagging injuries and COVID concerns, as well as Tobias Harris due to COVID-19 concerns. There is the potential to have Harris back when they take on the Raptors here, even though there is a possibility that the Sixers will have to continue waiting to get Harris back while Embiid continues to sit.
Whether or not Harris plays, the Sixers have to like their chances in this game as they are playing a Raptors team on a back to back. At home, Philadelphia will hope that they are going to get a boost from their crowd. But the on-court execution needs to be better from the Sixers more than anything, as their offensive production will be tested against a Raptors team that has the potential to put the clamps on even the most offensively gifted opponents.
Expected Line-Up: Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond
Expert Pick #1 – 76ers -2 @ -110
While their roster is mangled due to COVID and injuries, you still have to like the chances of the 76ers to beat the Raptors at home. They are going to be our first bet here to cover the two-point spread in this game at -110 odds. The back to back schedule for the Raptors will be an issue, and the absences for the Sixers are overvalued as Andre Drummond is a suitable temporary replacement for Embiid on the inside for the Sixers.
Expert Pick #2 – Sixers to Win @ -125
In addition to taking the Sixers against the spread, it is also worth a small bet on the Sixers to win this game outright at -125 odds. Toronto has been wildly inconsistent this year, and they do not have the offensive firepower needed to win on a back to back on the road at this point in time. This is especially true with Pascal Siakam just coming back from injury.
Expert Pick #3 – Under 207.5 @ -110
The final bet for this game is a small wager on the Under 207.5 at -110 odds. The roster issues for the Sixers have made it so that if they win it should be a low-scoring affair. And the Raptors seem more comfortable playing a lower scoring game themselves. This game should be played in the low 100s on each side at the most.
This game will be of a lower quality than it usually is when these two teams play, due to the injury and COVID concerns on one side and the scheduling concerns on the other. But the 76ers won’t care about the aesthetic quality of the game as they should be able to get the job done at home. Back the Sixers to pick up their first win in a few tries here.