- Raptors seek first win of the season as they head to Philly to battle 76ers
- Joel Embiid missed last game against Cleveland, is day-to-day with a sore back
- Check the odds, analysis and our betting prediction below
The Toronto Raptors will try to avoid an 0-3 start to the season when they travel to Wells Fargo Center for a date with the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
Philly could be without big man Joel Embiid, who’s day-to-day with back tightness, but they’ve still opened as 2-point favorites against a squad still needing someone to step up and play closer.
Raptors vs 76ers Odds
|Toronto Raptors||+2 (-112)||+108||N/A|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-2 (-108)||-126||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken December 28. Tip-off is Tuesday at 7:10pm ET
Toronto has been in both games they’ve played, but faded in the second half against the Pelicans, and even later in the fourth quarter to take an L to the Spurs.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back from a thumping by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who handed them their first loss of the season.
Who’s The Man In TO?
Toronto has the similar makeup of the franchise that’s been a shoo-in for 50 wins year-in and year-out, so why the sluggish start? Toronto hasn’t lost three in a row to open a season since they dropped nine straight in 2005-06.
Part of the reason is the adjustment to a thinned roster with the departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Both were key contributors on both ends of the floor, and at least early on the Raptors are off their marks from a year ago.
DeMar DeRozan’s 3 ball looked good last night 👀
Contract year 💰 pic.twitter.com/CPsNMJhbOz
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 27, 2020
Last year’s top team in points allowed at 106.5 points per game, the Dinos are currently 20th, surrendering 116 points a contest. They’ve dipped on the other end of the floor too, currently scoring just 106.5 points a contest, the fifth lowest total in the league, way off their middle-of-the-pack ranking (13th at 112.8 points) from last year.
The Raptors have five players averaging double digits in scoring, led by Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, who are both averaging 18 points a contest. Siakam is also averaging 10 rebounds, one of two Toronto players averaging double-doubles so far this year. Kyle Lowry is averaging 17 points and 10 assists.
An interesting wrinkle from yesterday was the Raptor's success running a Horns set w/ their guards. Generated a bunch of good offense late-game w this set. pic.twitter.com/wlN4JmsCd0
— S (@hoopgoose) December 27, 2020
Still, since Kawhi Leonard has left, Toronto is built to contend — if there is a superstar to plug into this lineup. And until they get one, this team will always hope that one of their very good players can step into the closer role when their number is called.
VanVleet scored 10 points in the fourth quarter against San Antonio, but Siakam has yet to put up a single point in the final frame in two games, and Lowry has scored just two points in the fourth quarter of each of their losses.
Sixers Retooled Around Stars
Darryl Morey and Doc Rivers didn’t need to veer to far from the previous regime’s game plan — they’ve just done a better job making it look functional in Philly. Prior to Embiid getting hurt, he was the undisputed hub, averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds on a crisp 54.1% shooting in their 2-0 start. Without him? They were blasted 118-94 by the Cavs.
— NBA Philippines (@NBA_Philippines) December 28, 2020
Ben Simmons has assumed the role of super do-everything star, averaging 15.3 points on 58.6% shooting, adding 8.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.7 steals. True to form, he’s also not attempted a three-point attempt this year.
Everyone else revolves around that, with the main concern hitting outside shots. Of their top offseason pickups, Seth Curry is delivering early, averaging 42.9% from deep on just under five attempts a contest. They’re hoping Danny Green can turn it around: he’s hit just 2-for-11 from deep (18.2%) and is averaging four points a game.
Ben Simmons is insane on defense. RJ Barrett is 1-11 from the field in the first half pic.twitter.com/o2TclF9RzD
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 27, 2020
Tobias Harris is the third in team scoring at 14.3 points per game while shooting 40% from three. They’re not an offensive juggernaut by any means — at 105.3 points a game, only the Clippers and Pelicans are scoring less. But Doc’s plan was to dig in on the defensive end, and they have, surrendering only 104.7 points a game, the fourth-best mark in basketball.
What’s The Best Bet?
A lot depends on Embiid’s status, as Aaron Baynes is the one true big body Toronto has to bang with him. If he plays that’s a massive matchup advantage Philly. Still, it’s hard to bet against the Raptors, who have absolutely owned the 76ers of late. Toronto is 24-4 against their Atlantic Division rivals since 2013-14 – the best mark of any team against another in that span.
Look for Lowry and Siakam to step into the closer role for this contest, and expect the Raptors to play with the urgency of a team desperate to get into the win column.
The pick: Raptors ML (+108)
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