Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers Preview and Pick

Toronto Raptors (0-0) at Philadelphia 76’ers -5 (0-0) O/U 190 6:00 PM ET, October 29, 2008
By Jason Green of

The Toronto Raptors will open their season down south in the USA, as they travel to the City of Brotherly Love to play the 76’ers. This is the opening game for both teams and both teams have high expectations for this year with the big additions they have brought on board. Even though this is only the first game of a long NBA season, every game in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division counts, as both these teams will be trying to battle with the Celtics for division supremacy.

The Raptors come into this season after losing in the first round of playoffs to the Orlando Magic 4 games to 1. The 76’ers were the surprise team of the East last season, as they earned the #7 seed, but lost in the first round to the Detroit Pistons 4 games to 2.

Last season the Raptors ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring (100.2 ppg) and the 76’ers ranked 23rd (96.6 ppg) even though the 76’ers shot a better FG% (44.74% to 43.72%). Philly was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams last year (33%), while the Raptors were decent (37%). The 3-point gunning of the 76’ers was hurt when they traded sharpshooter Kyle Korver to the Jazz and the long ball is a major concern for this year, as they really have no gunner who can light it up from beyond the arc. Philly was legit on D last year ranking 7th in points allowed (96.2 ppg) while the Raptors ranked 10th (97.3 ppg).

Basketball bookies are listing the 76’ers as 5 point favorites with a total around 190. Philly is also posted at around -200 on various Vegas moneylines, with Toronto getting around +170 as road dogs.

Last year the Raptors had the record of 41-41 and were 39-42-1 ATS, while the 76’ers 40-42 and were a good team to lay some green on going 43-36-3 ATS. Tonight’s game is in Philadelphia, where the 76’ers were 22-19 last season. The Raptors were not the best road team last season going only 16-25 away from the Great White North.

At the end of last season the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranked Toronto 14th at 90.53 and Philadelphia at 17th at 89.38 and vs. the top 10 teams in the league the Raptors were 8-22 and the 76’ers were 11-21.

On the injury front Raptors SF Jamario Moon, SF Hassan Adams SF and PF Jermaine O’Neal are day-to-day, while the 76’ers SF Thaddeus Young SF and C Samuel Dalembert are day-to-day.

These teams made the biggest moves in the East in the off-season, as the 76’ers signed Elton Brand and the Raptors traded for Jermaine O’Neal. These moves should make both teams better, but their health is a concern. Brand is just one season removed from a major injury and O’Neal has had knee problems in the last couple of years, especially last year. Both guys are capable of double-doubles every night, but they need to stay on the court.

If O’Neal is ready to go in this game he and Chris Bosh will create match up problems tonight for the 76’ers and most teams they play this year for that matter. The transition offense of the 76’ers is one of their strengths and they will push the ball all night with PG Andre Miller pushing the break and Brand and Andre Iguodala, last year’s leading scorer for the 76’ers, attacking the hoop. The Raptors have a legit starting 5, but the starters will have to log a lot of minutes tonight since they have a thin bench.

Even though the new additions are getting the ink, the key to this game may be with the perimeter players. The Raptors guards will have to play good D on Andre Iguodala and especially Andre Miller, who is still one of the better penetrating PG’s in the league. The guards of the 76’ers have to shoot the rock well tonight or the Raptors will sag back on D, which will limit the room Brand has to work with around the hoop. The same can be said about the Raptors, as their guards have to hit the open outside shot to open up the lane for Bosh and O’Neal to work their inside magic.

All eyes will be on Brand and O’Neal tonight to see how they debut with their new teams.

Jason’s Pick: I think Philly wins, but Toronto covers the underdog spread.