The top two teams in the East by total wins square off in Toronto today, as the 20-5 Toronto Raptors host the 17-8 Philadelphia 76ers (8 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN).
Both teams come into this game playing excellent basketball over the past few weeks. Toronto was on an eight-game winning streak before losing at home to the Denver Nuggets on Monday. Philadelphia has won eight of its last nine games. The team is really finding its stride with the new addition of All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler.
These teams did meet in late October. Toronto won that game 129-112, but that was before the Butler trade.
Let’s determine some key factors in this contest before we decide on the best ways to invest your money with our Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors predictions and betting picks.
Can 76ers Continue to Protect the Ball?
Since last season, the Sixers’ main weakness on the offensive end has been turning the ball over too much. In particular, two key options in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are often careless with the ball and allow opponents to score off their turnovers.
Recently, though, Philadelphia has been turning it around. In their last five games, they are averaging only 12.6 turnovers per contest. Prior to that stretch, the team’s average was 16.3 turnovers per contest. That difference of three or four extra possessions for the 76ers will be key against an elite Raptors squad.
This is especially true because the Raptors have all sorts of length on defense and are among the most efficient teams in transition on offense. If Philadelphia turns the ball over frequently, Toronto will take advantage.
Can Jimmy Butler Play Kawhi Leonard Relatively Evenly?
The 76ers’ trade for Butler gives them one of the league’s hottest commodities: an elite wing who can both take over games on offense and lock down the opponent’s best perimeter player.
Philly was missing that player in the October matchup between these teams. Robert Covington is a great defender, but he couldn’t help by making Leonard expend energy on the other end of the floor. As a result, Leonard had enough energy to drop an efficient 31 points, seven rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.
If Butler can come close to matching Leonard’s production and efficiency, the Sixers will have a decent chance at pulling off the upset.
Will Raptors Keep Joel Embiid Off Free-Throw Line?
The head of the Philadelphia snake is Embiid, their franchise center. He often demands double teams in the post because of his breathtaking combination of size, strength and athleticism.
If Toronto has a weakness, it could be its ability to handle the very best centers in the NBA. Two of their primary big men (Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam) are good defensively, but they are at a size disadvantage against Embiid. Jonas Valanciunas can match Embiid in size and strength, but he’s not nearly as quick.
The key for Toronto will be keeping Embiid from racking up fouls on its big men. Embiid averages 12 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes in Philly’s wins, but just nine free-throw attempts per 36 minutes when the Sixers lose.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors Betting Picks & Predictions
I think the Raptors might ultimately win because of their roster’s superior balance and home-court advantage, but I think Philly will come into this game with a bunch of motivation. With eight wins in their last nine games, the Sixers are finding their groove with Jimmy Butler. Considering this a big game against a team that beat it last time, Philly’s energy will keep the squad very competitive today. So this is how the Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors predictions look for this NBA preview:
- The spread is just a little bit too wide relative to my expectations. The first our two picks is to place your bet on the Sixers covering the line of +6pts @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops or BetOnline.
- We should see plenty of one-on-one play between these teams who have plenty of star power. Since these teams are both East powers, the pace of this game could resemble a playoff game, which means a lower-scoring game. Put your money on the under 230 total points @ -110 with Bookmaker.