Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers Game 3 Pick
Toronto Raptors (63-26 SU, 42-47 ATS) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (56-33 SU, 43-46 ATS)
When: Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
By: Matt Lowry, NBA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TOR -1.5 / PHI +1.5 (Bovada Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 216.5
Last Time Out: Philadelphia won game two 94-89. Series is tied at 1-1.
Game Three Rest Advantages:
The series will switch to Philadelphia for game three, which means each team will receive two days of rest. The Raptors are 12-3 straight up and 7-8 against the spread this season when they get an extra day of rest. The 76ers are 15-9 straight up and 12-12 against the spread in the same category. Because Philly has played so well at home this season, they are my are my pick in this vital game three.
The North is Coming:
I will be the first to admit that I completely underestimated the Raptors in game one when they put on a show and blew the 76ers out. However, the Raptors quickly gave away home court advantage in game two, when they lost and failed to play with the same intensity. Now for game three let’s look at some reasons why they can steal back home court advantage when they head to the “City of Brotherly Love.”
The easy answer would be to say Kawhi Leonard must have a productive game. However, he is averaging 40 points per game in the first two, so that is not really a fair statement to make. When I analyzed game one and game two, I saw one trend that is holding the Raptors back. This is their bench production. Game one saw the Toronto bench score 10 points. Yes, 10 points total from a bench of NBA players. Granted, the Raptors won this game by 13 points, so it did not hurt them here, but game two was a different story. In game two, Toronto’s subs were even worse and scored just 5 points. Serge Ibaka needed to be a factor off the bench in both games. In game one he scored 7 and in game two he scored 2. This leads me to my key to the game… to get Ibaka more involved.
I ran some numbers and found that Ibaka has had a ton of success against the 76ers this season. In three regular season games against Philadelphia, Ibaka is averaging 18 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Not only did he put up good numbers but he shot 24 of 41 in these three games combined or 58.5%. Where was this production in games one and two? If Ibaka had these numbers in the series, the Raptors would easily be up 2-0 right now. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Leonard has scored 80 of the 197 total points in this series for the Raptors, but still the Raptors need to recognize the difference Ibaka can make. If Ibaka only gets a measly 2 to 8 points, the Raptors will not have enough fire power to keep up with a loaded Philadelphia roster.
Philadelphia fans should be thanking Jimmy Butler right now, because his 30-point game two is the reason why the 76ers left Toronto with a road win. The Sixers best guy, Joel Embiid, has yet to really make an impact in this series and will look to turn things around back in the comfort of his own arena. My key for the Sixers in this game will be to get Embiid more involved and to get him at least 20 points on the night.
This key may be obvious, but it needs to be reinforced that Embiid has not played great through the first two games. Game one he scored 16 points and game two he scored 12 points. Furthermore, he shot 7 of 25 from the field or 28%. Now, you must credit Toronto’s defense in slowing him down, but at some point Embiid is going to have to play like the guy who is averaging 21.2 points in this years’ playoffs. Maybe they use him as more of a decoy and hope Toronto double-teams him, so he can kick it out to Butler or Reddick, but regardless, Embiid’s performance will shape this contest from the opening tip until the clock hits 0:00.
My best bet will be the 76ers in this game three matchup. The Sixers are 2-1 at home this postseason but in their two wins the average margin of victory was 22 points. Also, Embiid has averaged 22.7 points in their three home games in the postseason so I like Embiid to have a breakout game and be the reason why the 76ers take a 2-1 lead.
Free NBA Pick: Philadelphia 76ers +1.5