Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors Pick
Philadelphia 76ers (17-8, 11-14 ATS) vs. Toronto Raptors (20-5, 11-13-1 ATS)
When: Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 – 8:00 pm ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PHI -6/TOR +6 (-105 if using Reduced Juice)
To celebrate the holiday season, let’s countdown with a fun NBA fact or statistic related to the number of days left until Christmas:
21 – I feel like I’ve already written the Spurs eulogy enough this season, but today, let’s celebrate their two greatest things associated with 21: Tim Duncan, the greatest “power forward” who ever lived, and their 21-season playoff streak that is in SERIOUS jeopardy this year. Don’t worry, San Antonio – Brett Brown will carry on your legacy with his own #21-wearing MVP.
As you may have heard some of our cappers have been on a good run here at Predictem.
Kevin West’s NBA picks have been killing it! (ALWAYS 100% FREE) There’s not enough space here for tonight’s strong points so you’ll need to visit this page to get his take: https://t.co/tHhC8Lm7eh #BullsVSPacers #TuesdayNBABets
— Predictem (@PredictemPicks) December 4, 2018
Last Night in the NBA
As predicted, Tuesday night was quiet in the Association. We did, however, finally manage to string together back-to-back victories for the first time in forever as the Jazz helped the Old Spurs cross the street to the NBA Lottery line. See you in another life, Pop. Elsewhere, the Suns secured the #1 overall pick in a loss to the Kings, Lauri Markkanen came back just in time to lose more games under his new coach, and Luka-mania is reaching a fever pitch. Somebody hose me down.
Let’s hope that we (and the 76ers) can continue our winning ways as my hometown team travels up to the frigid north to take on the Toronto Raptors. The team with the best record in the NBA is currently a 6-point favorite over The Process squad with the total set to a sweltering 229 points. Bundle up – it’s going to be a chilly night.
I have seen every single game that the Philadelphia 76ers have played this year either on television or in attendance at the packed Wells Fargo Center. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: this team is not playing well. Between the Jimmy Butler trade and the Markelle Fultz never-ending saga, the roster continuity has been non-existent. For a team that relies on as much ball and player movement as Philly does, chemistry is the biggest factor in determining ultimate success. And so far, it’s just not there. And yet…they are still on pace for a 56-win season and a top-3 seed. Go ahead and write your “Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid don’t fit together on a basketball court” think-pieces all you want; my large adult son Joel and I will see you in the Finals, baby.
In order to get to that point, the Sixers will likely have to go through Toronto, and tonight is the litmus test for this team’s ultimate destiny. In their meeting on October 30th, Ben Simmons had the worst game of his career as he posted a triple-double of points, assists and turnovers. Other than that, there wasn’t much the Sixers needed to improve. Toronto is susceptible on the glass without a traditional center playing steady minutes, and Joel feasted to the tune of 31 points and 11 rebounds. With Jimmy Butler in the fold, Philadelphia should use Simmons as more of a traditional big in the offensive post. Toronto’s wing defenders are good and aplenty, but a Hakeem-Sampson Lite featuring Simmons and Embiid is a recipe for success. After that, it’s simple: shut down Kawhi Leonard, limit Kyle Lowry offensively, contain their frontcourt of Siakam, Ibaka and Valanciunas, close out on their shooters like Danny Green and C.J. Miles and exploit Fred Van Vleet in the 18 minutes he plays. Easy as that!
The Canadian is Cut
It turns out that Toronto isn’t invulnerable after all. Nikola Jokic worked the body against them to the tune of a triple-double as Kyle Lowry looked like an old guy trying to play pick-up with college kids at the YMCA. The Raptors have been the best team in basketball through the first two months of the season, and they are a deep, talented team. But as the season continues on, their lack of top-end talent (outside of Kawhi) might start to poke holes in their armor, and on any given night, they may not have the best player on the floor. Against some teams, that might not matter. Against the Philadelphia 76ers? I’m thinking Joel might have something to say about it.
College Hoops Pick: Huskies vs. Gonzaga
In their home arena, Toronto usually doesn’t have much to be worried about; they were 34-7 in the T-Dot last season, and they’ve already started their 2018-19 campaign 10-3 at home. Despite their roster re-shuffle, their record against the 76ers speaks for itself – Toronto has won 20 of its last 22 games against Philadelphia. You really have to look no further than their first game to see the dominance on display, as the Raptors shot 51% from the field, 41% from 3 and 86% from the free throw line. With a top-3 offense and a top-10 defense, Toronto just has to go out and play its game; let the Sixers be the ones to worry about adjustments. With Kawhi back healthy, Kyle Lowry manning the controls and their rotating cast of bigs eating teams alive, the Raptors should be able to control the outcome of this game.
Four Factors of Winning
Since we’re all about finding the edge here at Predictem.com, let’s take the time each day to dive into the stats that lead to winning basketball games. According to a theory posited by Dean Oliver, a win in basketball can be narrowed down to four factors: shooting, turnovers, rebounding and free throws. Each day, I will take a look at the areas that each team excels at or is susceptible to, and we will see if we can find a specific reason why Team A will beat Team B.
There’s a reason that my wife has specific instructions to make herself comfortable in the bedroom and not disturb me during this game; it’s going to be a war. Toronto is the third-best shot making team in the league with the fourth-most prolific defense, but Philly isn’t far behind. In fact, the Sixers have climbed all the way up to third in opponent’s effective field goal percentage, and teams don’t dare try my son. Opponents attempt only 28% of their shots at the rim versus the Sixers and are converting on only 63% of those, good for 8th best in the league.
Rebounding is where the Sixers gain their biggest advantage. The Sixers are an elite rebounding unit while Toronto is 5th-worst in the league. Look for Philadelphia to crash the glass more than usual and try to exploit their size advantage for second-chance opportunities in the form of kick-out J.J. Redick three-pointers. They’ll have to compensate somehow; Philadelphia is still an egregious turnover-machine, and Toronto is no slouch when it comes to taking advantage of sloppy offense.
Finally, the Sixers are second-best in the NBA at drawing fouls – thank you Joel for that statistic. However, we already saw a playoff environment in their first meeting as Embiid managed only 7 free throw attempts. Toronto is superb at defending without fouling, but if the refs swallow their whistle, Philadelphia is going to have to figure out a way to generate their offense somewhere else.
As things currently stand, there are only three teams in the NBA that I believe could beat the 76ers in a 7-game series: the Golden State Warriors (obvious reasons), the Boston Celtics (Horford – gulp – owns Embiid), and the Toronto Raptors. They’re deeper, more athletic, have better shooting and most importantly, they have a healthy Kawhi Leonard. Time will tell if that list shrinks or expands, but luckily for us, we only need one game. Do I need to launch into the Herb Brooks speech? Or can you kind of see where I’m going with this? The Raptors have outplayed the Sixers so far this year, but that margin is shrinking, and this is a very important game for Philadelphia. I’m not guaranteeing a Philly victory, but I’m guaranteeing a close, tightly contested game. If Joel Embiid wants to be the MVP of the NBA, now would be a hell of a time to add to his resume. The past is in the past, and a new future begins tonight. The Process worked, everybody. Welcome to The Results.
Final Score Prediction: Philadelphia 118 – Toronto 116