You won’t want to miss the rest of this Eastern Conference semifinal series between the second-seeded Toronto Raptors and the third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Through two games in Toronto, both teams have one win. The competition has been excellent and the teams are playing very hard.
For Game 3 today, these two star-studded squads are moving to Philadelphia to see which will take a 2-1 series lead (8pm ET Thursday on ESPN).
So far, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard has been the dominant force in this series. However, defense has ruled the day in the first two games, as neither team has really been able to establish a very good offensive flow for a long period of time.
We’ll first look at the major topics heading into today’s Game 3. Then this preview will advise you on your best betting picks with our closing Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers predictions.
Can Raptors Get Marc Gasol Going?
Gasol is not a huge scorer for Toronto, but he has to put up more points than he has posted in his last four games spanning back to the first round. The Raptors’ veteran starter at center has only 24 points on 7-of-22 shooting in 110 minutes in that span and really hasn’t been very involved in the team’s offense.
In Game 2, Philadelphia chose to guard Gasol with Tobias Harris, who is smaller and lighter than him. The Raptors tried to post him up on Harris a couple times, but Philadelphia would throw well-timed double teams at him to get the ball out of his hands. Toronto hasn’t been utilizing him enough in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations, which means the Sixers can focus more on the team’s perimeter ball-handlers, mainly Kawhi Leonard.
Toronto’s offense is at risk of being too reliant on Leonard if it doesn’t get Gasol involved more as a passer, shooter and inside scorer.
Will Sixers Find an Answer to the Double-Teaming of Joel Embiid?
One thing that should be encouraging for Philadelphia is that it won Game 2 on the road despite its best player, superstar center Joel Embiid, putting up an absolutely horrid stat line. Embiid posted 12 points, six rebounds and six turnovers on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. In fact, he shot poorly in Game 1, as well, with a line of 5-of-18 shooting from the field. Admittedly, he is dealing with persistent knee troubles, but he has played well through those in the recent past.
Toronto’s Marc Gasol has the size and smarts to contain Embiid relatively well in the post. The Raptors are also double and triple-teaming him a lot of the time, which is throwing him out of his rhythm.
Embiid has improved as a passer, and had some nice dishes in Game 2 (six assists). However, the Sixers need him to be even better in that area moving forward. He needs to make quicker decisions when he gets the ball, and his teammates need to make strong cuts off the ball to help him out.
Will Raptors Make Any Strategic Adjustments to Their Rotation?
The Sixers are supposedly the team with the worse bench in this matchup. On paper, the Raptors’ Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are better than the Sixers’ James Ennis III, Greg Monroe and Jonah Bolden. Those were the only reserves who played more than three minutes in Game 2.
However, in Game 2, the Sixers’ bench trio was way better. Philadelphia used its size and physicality to turn the game into one that was won in the paint. Powell and VanVleet were exploited for their lack of size, and Ibaka struggled with foul trouble and rebounding.
Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse needs to find some way to put his reserves in better position to succeed. We will see whether he switches up his lineups a bit or has the Raptors play a different style of offense or defense to counteract the Sixers’ huge bench advantage in Game 2.
Our Betting Preview’s Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers Predictions for Game 3 with Picks
A lot of things went wrong for both teams in Game 2. The Raptors’ bench was horrible and All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons didn’t contribute much on offense for the Sixers.
I’m worried Toronto’s offense is becoming too reliant on Kawhi Leonard’s one-on-one play. The Sixers have good enough defenders (especially Ben Simmons) to keep him from completely going off again and Leonard’s style of play doesn’t facilitate ball movement.
That said, the Raptors’ defense has been very good in this series. I expect the 76ers to use their home-court advantage to pull out a close victory in another defensive struggle. Given that viewpoint, these are the Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers predictions for this NBA playoffs Game 3 clash:
- Looking at the USA online betting lines with the sportsbooks, the Raptors are the narrow favorite by either 1 or 1.5 points. Naturally, this preview suggests that you bet on the 76ers +1.5 @ best odds of -105 with Bovada.
- The projected over/under on the total points for this game is staying pretty high despite the trends we have seen in this series. We are confidently betting the under 216.5pts @ -105 with Bovada, Bookmaker or BetOnline offshore bookies.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.