Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors Game 1 Pick
Philadelphia 76ers (55-32 SU, 42-45 ATS) vs. Toronto Raptors (62-25 SU, 41-46 ATS)
When: Saturday, April 27th, 2019 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
Point Spread: PHI +6.5 / TOR -6.5 (MyBookie)
Total: O/U 222.5
Last Time Out: Philly beat Brooklyn 122-100; Toronto beat Orlando 115-96
Round Two Begins:
After a rocky start to both teams’ playoffs run (both went down 0-1 in the first round), they each rallied off four wins in a row to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Toronto was the slightly better team in series one, winning by an average of 18.8 points, whereas the 76ers won by an average of 16 points.
Both first-round series ended earlier this week on Tuesday, April 23rd, meaning each team will have received three days of rest before this round two series starts. Toronto holds a slight advantage going 3-2 straight up when they are given three days of rest, whereas the 76ers are just 1-1. However, both teams have not covered the spread once in this situation, with the Raptors going 0-5 and the 76ers going 0-2.
The most notable injury to keep an eye on is that of Kyle Lowry. Lowry is dealing with a dislocated finger but is still expected to suit up for game one.
There is no question that the 76ers were tested in round one against the Nets. If some calls went the other way, we still might be watching this series, but nonetheless, the 76ers are in the second round and are looking to steal home court advantage with a game one road win. There are a few ways they can pull off the road win, but it will start with their role players.
To start, we basically already know Embiid will get his points. When I did some calculations, I found that he averaged 26.3 points in four games against Toronto in the regular season. Granted, the 76ers were 1-3 in these games, so this tells me that someone else will need to step up if the 76ers are going to win in Toronto.
I believe the key player in this game will be Jimmy Butler. Butler averaged 22.7 points in three games against the Raptors this season, including a 38-point performance. But he had an average first-round, scoring 15.8 PPG shooting 46.7% from the field and 27.3% from the three-point line. His three-point percentage is the biggest area that needs improvement considering he shot 33.8% in the regular season. Look for an increased role from Butler to mirror Embiid and help the 76ers hang with the Raptors.
The North Remembers:
The Raptors may have made it to the second round (again), but can they finally get past that bump where they have struggled so much in recent years? With the addition of Kawhi Leonard this season, they will look to start this series strong but will need to rely on more than just Leonard to give them a 1-0 lead.
Now Leonard practically carried the Raptors in round one, averaging 27.8 points per game while shooting 55.6% from the field and 53.8% from the three-point line. These numbers are insane for a best of seven series, but to be fair, they were playing the seventh-seeded Orlando Magic. I do not necessarily believe he can replicate these numbers against the Philly defense, but there is one guy who I think will be vital to a Raptors win.
The player I am talking about is Pascal Siakam. Siakam was the second leading scorer for the Raptors this season, averaging 16.9 points in 80 games played. However, when the playoffs rolled around, Siakam stepped up his game even more and was able to average 22.6 points in the five games against the Magic. This included a career-high outing in game three, where he scored 30 points in a 98-93 Toronto win. Now Siakam was not only a scoring threat in round one, but he also led the team in rebounds, averaging 8.4 boards in the series. I believe if he continues to play at this level, the Sixers are going to have a tough time slowing him down and it will benefit the Raptors in not only game one, but this entire series.
The Raptors dominated the Sixers in the regular season, but the keyword here is “regular season.” The Raptors have not yet seen the Sixers with Tobias Harris, meaning they will have to game plan around another superstar that the Sixers acquired. That said, the Sixers lineup is much deeper than the Raptors, and they will at the very least cover the line of 6.5. However, I believe they win this game on the road and go up 1-0 in the series.