Sixers-Raptors: Preview, Odds, Predictions
The Philadelphia 76ers are in Tampa, Florida for a two-game series against the Raptors. The Sixers remain atop of the Eastern Conference standings with a 20-10 record. Meanwhile, the Raptors got off to a horrible start this season and have struggled to find consistent offensive production outside Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. In their only meeting this year, the Sixers defeated the Raptors at home, 100-93. Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris dominated as the Sixers mounted a late-game comeback.
Coming off a career-high 50 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks outing against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, Joel Embiid is the clear front-runner for MVP this season. Embiid has led the 76ers to a 20-10 record while averaging 30.5 points on .547/.400/.853 shooting splits to go along with 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 steals and blocks per game.
The Raptors no longer have the presence of Marc Gasol, or really anyone, to bottle up Embiid one-on-one. In their last matchup, Embiid dominated, scoring 29 points, adding 16 rebounds and four assists. Much like every game this season, the Sixers success relies on Embiid, who has answered the call time and time again for the Sixers.
Ben Simmons is expected to return after missing the last two games with a non-COVID illness. Before his two game absence, Simmons himself had a fantastic five game stretch that was highlighted by a 42-point effort against the Utah Jazz. During the five game run, Simmons has averaged 22.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game.
Simmons makes everything flow on the court for the Sixers. His defensive presence and playmaking abilities allow Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris comfortably fit into their roles on offense.
The Raptors are struggling to win games. They currently rank 22nd in the league in field goals made and field goal percentage. Outside of Siakam and VanVleet, who both average right around 21 points per game on the season, the Raptors struggle to score. Sixers killer Kyle Lowry is listed as doubtful for the game, which means that the Raptors will heavily rely on offensive production from Siakam and VanVleet.
The 76ers are clear favorites to win this game. The key to tonight’s game will be the Sixers’ defense containing the Raptors’ limited scoring options while dominating the paint. Offensively, the Sixers should be able to control the paint with Embiid and the pace of play with Ben Simmons.
Prediction: Sixers -3
|SIXERS||-3 (-110)||-156||o222.5 (-110)|
|RAPTORS||+3 (-110)||+132||u222.5 (-110)|
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY