NBA Playoffs Game 2 Preview: Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors Betting Picks & Predictions

Kawhi LeonardThe Philadelphia 76ers looked like world title contenders in the first round of the NBA playoffs but now, the Toronto Raptors have brought them back down to Earth.

Staked a 1-0 lead, Toronto is looking to continue their own run to the Eastern Conference Championship. Can the Raptors continue to have success against Philadelphia or will the Sixers prove that Game 1 was just a fluke (Game 2; 8PM ET today, Monday)?

When the 2018-19 NBA season began, the prospect of the Raptors facing the Sixers seemed more like an Eastern Conference Championship series than one that would be seen in the second round. Both Philadelphia and Toronto charged into the regular season with high expectations as the teams sought to fill the void that was left by LeBron James’ Eastern Conference exit. With James in LA, the East opened up and a new conference champion was guaranteed. Both Toronto and Philadelphia have made reasonable cases all year as to why that team could and should be them. They have done so alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, who are in the midst of their own second round series.

Philadelphia won their first round series somewhat easily against the Brooklyn Nets, dispatching the team in five games. The Raptors also made quick work of their first round opponent, the Orlando Magic, defeating the team in five games as well. In those two series, both Philadelphia and Toronto showed their strengths as the two teams won more games than not by large margins.

The Raptors kept up this streak when they opened their second round series with Philadelphia, as Toronto won by 13 points in a game that finished with a 108-95 final score. The Raptors barely trailed, outscoring the Sixers by eight in the first quarter and extending that lead throughout the game. They were led by an absolute monster effort from Kawhi Leonard, who they acquired from the San Antonio Spurs prior to the season. Leonard, who has never lost to the Sixers in his career, went off to the tune of 45 points, 11 rebounds and a field goal percentage just under 70 percent.

Leonard has been a star this postseason, averaging 27.8 points across the team’s first round series with his lowest single game output at 16. Against the Magic, Leonard topped 25 in four of the five games and 30 in two of those four. Leonard wasn’t Philadelphia’s only or perhaps even biggest problem. The Sixers were overwhelmed by a matchup that had expected to be difficult for the team. Joel Embiid, who needs to be the star Philadelphia hopes he will be, against Toronto, continued to experience career struggles against Marc Gasol.

A former defensive player of the year, Gasol has had Embiid’s number the entire time the two have been in the league together. Add in the impact of Serge Ibaka’s presence and Embiid was smothered in Game 1, held to just 16 points and eight rebounds, both playoff lows for him this year. Gasol has historically overpowered Embiid, something that doesn’t happen to Philadelphia’s big man all that often. He has yet really to find a way to counter defenders when that happens. If the Raptors can continue to fluster and frustrate Embiid, this series may well be over before it gets back to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Thursday.

Another thing the Sixers struggled with on Saturday was their lack of bench depth, which took a big hit with Mike Scott suffering an injury in Game 1. Philadelphia’s bench has been an issue all season and now, they find themselves down one more man, someone in Scott who had a big role to play in the Nets series. The Sixers can make a claim to having one of the best starting lineups in the NBA. With Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler all having bona fide star power and all playing like stars in the first round of the playoffs, it is hard to find an equal for Philadelphia in the conference.

None of those guys, especially Embiid, is playing 48 minutes and when they do have to come off the court for spurts at a time, the Sixers don’t have much to counter. Their bench is primarily made up of guys who might be better served in the developmental league as opposed to an NBA playoff team. That is problematic, especially against teams like Toronto, who have deep weapons throughout their starting and bench lineups. If Philadelphia can’t get more production out of their bench, again, this could be a short series that leads the team to having to make some tough decisions in the offseason.

Our Betting Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors Predictions & Game 2 Picks Conclusion

Sometimes how you lose is worse than losing, especially in a Game 1. Going down 1-0 is by no means a dagger or a sign the series is coming to an end, but losing in such a matter where you have no answers for your opponent, that can be concerning. Right now, the Sixers are in that situation as they were unable to contain Toronto and fell victim to their own depth woes. That’s not to say necessarily that the team can’t rebound, but it is a tough task. The Raptors were a top team in the regular season and right now, they are showing why they will be a difficult team to beat for anybody left in the playoffs.

The Raptors are projected 6.5 point favorites with the top rated American-friendly sports betting sites, which is the second highest mark a team is favored by over the next four postseason games. While I do think Toronto manages to keep Philadelphia at bay, expect a closer outcome than in Game 1. At points, Philadelphia stayed close with Toronto, an outcome that should be the case again tonight. So the Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors predictions for Game 2 of this NBA playoff series are:

  • Take Philadelphia +6.5pts @ best odds of -105 with Bovada, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
  • As for the total, Game 1 wasn’t as high scoring as some of the ones the Sixers engaged in with the Nets. Credit Toronto’s defense for that one. That said, in predicting the Sixers to keep it close, the only way they do so is in a high scoring affair so take the over 220 total points to be scored @ -110 with Bookmaker.