76ers vs. Raptors Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
This series has moved back to Toronto, but all of the momentum is with the Philadelphia 76ers, who hold a commanding 2-0 series lead after dominant showings at home.
Can the Raptors mount a comeback in the series or will the 76ers push them to the brink of elimination?
Let’s break it down.
No Thybulle, No Problem For 76ers?
The 76ers have been exceptional so far this series, and it’s started and ended with the play of their starters.
The difference now is that Danny Green has joined the starting lineup, while Matisse Thybulle played just 10 minutes in Game 2. This is notable because Thybulle is ineligible to play in Toronto since he is not fully vaccinated.
When the other four — James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid — are on the floor this series, the 76ers have a +22.2 point differential while scoring 123.2 points and allowing just 101.0 per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. Those are astounding numbers.
While losing Thybulle in a different series would be more significant, Philadelphia can survive without his elite point-of-attack defense because the Raptors are just so forward heavy. Green provides more offense, as well.
Philly’s biggest edge is Embiid. The Raptors simply have no answer for him, and he’s getting to the free throw line at will.
Not only does this help the 76ers on offense, but considering the Raptors are so thin with Scottie Barnes listed as doubtful again, it can force some of the Raptors’ best players either off the court or into a situation where they cannot defend Embiid due to potential foul trouble.
On the series, the 76ers are taking 32 free throws per game compared to the Raptors’ 17.5. This edge is significant, and I expect it to continue given the 76ers’ elite ability to draw fouls.
Toronto’s Defense Needs To Step Up
The Raptors have listed Barnes (ankle) as doubtful and Gary Trent Jr. (illness) as questionable. This is particularly interesting because Trent played 10 minutes in Game 2 after being listed as questionable for that one, and he was wholly ineffective, not registering a point or assist and grabbing just one rebound. His minutes were primarily filled by Malachi Flynn, who played 21 without a point.
The loss of Barnes is significant. Even if he is able to play, I’m not sure that he can turn the tide in this series. Without Barnes, there is significant stress on Pascal Siakam to not only create but to score. While he’s more than capable, it’s a tall task with Embiid looming on the other side.
A major issue for Toronto is that its defensive rotations are limited, and it’s undersized overall. As a result, the Raptors are allowing the 76ers to shoot 70.7% at the rim in the two games this series, per Cleaning the Glass.
Not only are the Raptors getting destroyed on the interior, but they’re struggling to defend the 3-point line, as well, with the 76ers shooting an incredible 49.2% from beyond the arc.
While you’d expect these numbers to regress, those looks are wide open. Toronto’s rotations are not crisp, and Harden is lulling them to sleep on defense before finding his teammates for excellent looks.
This is a must-win game for the Raptors, but they have shown me nothing that indicates that they’re contenders in this series.
While the 76ers should see some regression shooting the basketball, Toronto’s actual vs. expected eFG% is nearly identical, which indicates they may not see any improvements.
If Barnes is able to play, maybe the Raptors can steal a game, but I don’t think it’ll be Wednesday night after that type of sprain.
The 76ers are listed as 1.5-point road favorites as of Tuesday night, and I absolutely will be backing them to take care of business in Game 3 on the road.
Pick: 76ers -1.5