Raptors vs. 76ers Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
We know that Doc Rivers loves a 3-1 series lead, but can the Sixers finish the job and advance before this heads back to Toronto for a Game 6?
Could Raptors Benefit From VanVleet’s Injury?
Just as the Raptors received a boost with Scottie Barnes (ankle) returning to the lineup, they now may be without their All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet (hip), who is listed as questionable.
While losing VanVleet is not ideal, if any coach can navigate that, it’s Nick Nurse.
This is an interesting wrinkle because if VanVleet is unable to go, the lineups that Toronto can run are a bit different. They will not have the same defensive deficiencies as those with VanVleet. He has been targeted as a defensive liability, but the Raptors did not want to deviate from their star guard.
This can actually only help the Raptors at this point. FVV has played 140 minutes this series and has posted a -29.1 point differential per 100 possessions.
That’s by far the worst amongst their starters, and it is in large part because the Raptors’ defense allows 128.6 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.
If FVV cannot play, the Raptors will likely lean on Pascal Siakam and Barnes as their primary ball handlers and facilitators. When those two are on the floor during this series, the offense sees a significant uptick, and the Raptors score 128.9 points per 100 possessions.
If you remove FVV from those lineups, they still score 124.4, but they allow just 111.4, which is a significant downturn from the numbers with FVV on the court.
These lineups provide greater length and athleticism, and allow the Raptors to switch everything. This is something they cannot do with VanVleet on the floor.
76ers Worried About Embiid’s Thumb?
Since Game 5 is in Philadelphia, Matisse Thybulle can play again — he most recently played less than 15 minutes in Game 2.
The bigger concern for Philadelphia is Joel Embiid’s thumb, which seems to be bothering him. He was incredibly inefficient in Game 4, shooting just 43.8% from the field on his way to a 21-point, eight-rebound evening.
Maybe he will adjust to the pain and find something that works for him, but considering he will need offseason surgery, this is not something that will just go away on its own.
While Embiid’s unders for points and rebounds will be popular, I will be betting on his turnovers. The fewest minutes he has played so far this postseason is 37. Over the last two postseasons, when he’s played 37-plus minutes, he has turned the ball over four or more times in seven of the eight outings.
Looking at this year — and last year — he’s cleared this line in 19-of-28 (68%) games. He’s coming off of a five-turnover game, and if his thumb is bothering him, it may affect his ball control. I’ll bet over 3.5 turnovers at -105.
So far in this series, the 76ers have dominated. They had a chance to close out the sweep in Game 4, but they struggled against the Raptors’ lineups without FVV.
They simply committed way too many fouls. The Raptors outscored them by seven points on 10 more attempts from the free throw line. This is atypical for this Sixers team who generally dominates with their own free throw advantage.
With this series heading back to Philadelphia, I’d like to back the 76ers to at least close it out and advance. But Rivers does not inspire confidence with a 3-1 series lead.
It sounds odd, but the Raptors may be better off without VanVleet due to his lack of defense. Without him on the floor, they are much more difficult to exploit on that end, and they have enough creators with Siakam and Barnes on offense.
I like the Raptors better in this matchup if VanVleet does not play, and the line should actually climb to a higher number than +7.5 if he is ruled out.
I’m going to back Toronto to cover the spread.
The Raptors may not be able to stop the 76ers from advancing, but with Embiid’s injury and their ability to find some success with a lineup that did not include FVV, it presents Rivers with a situation where he may need to make a few adjustments. He’s not known for doing that successfully.
Since FVV’s status is up in the air, I’d play half of your wager now, and if he’s ruled out and the line moves against the Raptors, place the other half then. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but he’s been a negative in this series for Toronto.
Pick: Raptors +7.5 | Joel Embiid over 3.5 Turnovers (-105)