It’s the second half of a back-to-back today as the East-leading (20-11) Philadelphia 76ers look to rebound from a tough loss against the surging (16-15) Toronto Raptors, who are one of the hottest teams in the conference having won seven of their last 10 (7:30pm ET Tuesday).
Once again playing on the road where the team is just 7-9 on the season, the Sixers are hoping for a better late-game performance than they showed in game one, which saw Philadelphia lead by three at the half and by one after the first three quarters. That’s when everything started to unravel. So will it happen again today? Read our NBA game preview with betting predictions and picks.
Sixers’ Dynamic Duo Falls Short in Game One: Can They Rebound?
Playing with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for the first time in the last three games, Philadelphia certainly expected a better showing than they got come the fourth quarter. In a game that really was dictated by the runs both teams went on, Philadelphia had a dreadful scoring drought that lasted nearly half the quarter. Nothing was landing and the team ended up going seven-and-a-half minutes without a field goal. The fact that the Sixers still only lost by seven is somewhat of a minor miracle in its own right. Philadelphia scored just 19 points total in the fourth, their worst such output since December 31st against the Orlando Magic. Only in that game, the Sixers took a 35-point lead into the half and won by 24, able to rest the starters for much of the third and fourth quarters. That was not the case Sunday night against the Raptors.
Toronto’s defense stepped up big time and was able to stifle both Embiid and Simmons, who combined for 53 points, but only managed 11 in the fourth quarter (seven of which came on free-throw attempts). The key seemed to be double-teaming Embiid, who missed six of his seven shots in the quarter and whose 25 points throughout the entire game was tied for his lowest output since he put up just nine against the Miami Heat on January 14th.
It was certainly not the kind of finish the Sixers, who have aspirations of winning the NBA Championship, are going to feel good about. It was only one game and Philadelphia will have a chance to respond in the second half of the back-to-back.
With the day off in between, both Embiid and Simmons are likely to play, and that ultimately gives the Sixers their best chance to win games. Sunday’s result aside, the Sixers are better when both their stars are in the lineup. On the season, Philadelphia has 11 losses and only three of those have come when both Embiid and Simmons have played. By contrast, of the Sixers 20 wins, 17 of them have been with both men on the court. That means that Philadelphia has played just 20 of their first 31 games with both Simmons and Embiid, and have gone 17-3 in that stretch. Keeping both Embiid and Simmons on the court is going to be key to Philadelphia’s success this year. As much as people made about the two not being able to win together, 2021 has shown that the Sixers can’t win with them apart. Philadelphia is 15-6 this year in the games Embiid has played and they are just 5-5 in the ones he has missed. With Simmons, the Sixers are 18-8 when he is on the court and just 2-5 in the games he has missed.
Keeping the Momentum in Champa Bay
Boston may have to give up their “city of champions” and “titletown” monikers. It seems that where Tom Brady goes, that status follows. Over the last sports cycle of 2020-21, no one city has had more success than Tampa Bay, which has sent all three of its top teams to the championship, emerging victorious twice. Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their respective titles while the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series, just their second in the last 12 years. This is probably the part where you ask why does any of that matter given we are talking about the Sixers and the Raptors?
Well, the answer is simple. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a basketball team of their own. The closest would be the Orlando Magic. This year, the city has an adopted team of sorts as the Raptors, due to the pandemic, are playing their home games in Tampa and not Toronto. It would only make sense then that the one-time Toronto/Tampa Raptors would stand to benefit from the same success their counterparts have. After all, they say winning is contagious and since the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl on February 7th, the Raptors are 6-2. The team is currently on a four-game winning streak, their longest such streak of the season.
The success of Tampa’s sports scene aside, the Raptors are still a good basketball team, one not that far removed from winning their own championship, the first in franchise history. Despite starting the season 1-6, Toronto has rebounded, with its players starting to play to their top-level recently. Such has been the case over the four-game winning streak as both Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have played their best basketball of the season. Against the Sixers, the two combined for 46 points while committing just two turnovers. The Raptors certainly needed that kind of performance from their two stars and will need something similar if they hope to beat the Sixers twice in a row.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
Both the Sixers and Raptors are good teams and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them meet again in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They did so a few years ago and Toronto won, ultimately advancing to and winning the NBA Championship. The East is tough this year but both Philly and Toronto should be contenders for the rest of the season. The Sixers are the NBA’s best team right now and only twice this year have their lost back-to-back games. Look for Philly to learn from the errors of Sunday night and rebound to take game two. So these are our Sixers vs Raptors predictions and picks for this preview:
- Bet the 76ers -1.5pts @ -110 with BetOnline.
- Go over 224.5 total points @ -110, again with BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.