In an NBA playoff round full of exciting basketball, you could argue that no series has been as intriguing as the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors’ Eastern Conference semifinal matchup. Both teams have won two games, alternating victories in every game. Also, each game has been reasonably close for much of the contest.
So far in the series, defense has ruled the day. Both squads have struggled to hit 100 points in an era of NBA basketball where scoring 110 or 120 points in a game is commonplace. Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is averaging 38 points per game through four contests, putting up at least 33 points in every game.
Game 5 in Toronto today will be extremely pivotal for this series (8 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT). Does either team have an offensive gameplan that will solve the opposing defense? Will any role players step up? Let’s examine some key factors that will define this contest before we predict the betting outcomes.
What Can Pascal Siakam Provide in Game 5?
Siakam was a game-time decision for the Raptors in Game 4 due to a calf injury. He ended up playing 29 minutes but scoring only nine points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field. Toronto was able to eke out a big road win without him due to Kawhi Leonard going nuts from the field (39 points on 13-of-20 shooting) and the entire squad stepping up on defense. Toronto shot 39.3 percent from the field and 20.1 percent from three-point range outside of Leonard.
Will that recipe work again against the 76ers? Even though moving back home will help, I think Philly is too good to squander another golden opportunity.
As such, Toronto needs Siakam and his calf back closer to 100 percent for Game 5. His game is dependent on him combining his 6’9” frame with excellent explosiveness. If he only has his frame and skills without the athleticism, he’s not nearly as impactful as normal.
Will Ben Simmons Start to Take Matters into His Own Hands?
An interesting subplot in this series for the Sixers has been the fact that Simmons has been quite passive. He is only putting up 10 points, 4.8 assists and 1.8 turnovers in 38 minutes per game against Toronto. In the regular season, he was at 16.9 points, 7.7 assists and 3.5 turnovers in 34.2 minutes per game.
Simmons has had a solid series on defense. He has taken on a very tough assignment against Kawhi Leonard and is doing a better job on him than anyone else on his team. However, he has had the ball less on offense due to Jimmy Butler taking more responsibility, and he has been much more passive when he does get the ball. He hasn’t driven as aggressively to the hole as usual, which is negatively impacting both his free-throw and assist numbers.
Philadelphia has struggled mightily on offense in this series outside of Game 3. The team could really use Simmons stepping up more as a driver and facilitator, especially in transition.
Will Serge Ibaka Stay Engaged & Disciplined on Both Ends of the Floor?
If you are looking for X-factors from the Raptors in Game 4, look no further than Ibaka. After combining for 11 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and 10 fouls in the first three games, the reserve big man had 12 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two fouls in Game 4. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse felt comfortable playing him a series-high 32 minutes as a result.
The Raptors certainly would not have survived the win if Ibaka played at the level he did in the first three games. In Game 4, the Raptors’ reserves aside from Ibaka combined for zero points, two rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes on 0-of-4 shooting from the field. Toronto needed at least some punch off the bench and Ibaka was able to provide that.
Ibaka needs to keep playing well enough to command those big minutes. If he is not playing well at the rim or getting in foul trouble, the Raptors’ lack of depth could lead the starters to be majorly fatigued by the fourth quarter.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors Game 5 Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
I think both defenses, for the most part, have figured the opponent out. Philadelphia is fine letting Kawhi Leonard score as many points as he wants, as long as the rest of the team doesn’t get hot. Toronto’s defense is moving well and avoiding significant lapses, forcing a lot of one-on-one basketball from the Sixers. I predict another very close game, though I don’t really have a strong feeling on either team winning.
As good as these teams usually are on offense, their unimpressive depth means both teams will continue to play at a slow pace to keep their stars from running out of gas. So, for the picks, this is our view of the best Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors Game 5 predictions:
- Toronto is favored by either 6 or 6.5 points, depending on which of the top American sportsbooks you check. Since I believe this contest will go down to the wire, I recommendthat you bet on the 76ers +6.5pts @ -115 with BetOnline.
- Oddsmakers do expect a bit of a bounce-back in terms of the total, despite the average point total of the series being 198.6. I think the lack of depth for both teams will continue to lead to a low-scoring game. The smart choice is taking the under 211.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops or Bookmaker.
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.