Welcome to the Saturday, April 27 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for today’s first-round playoff matchups I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
ATS Leans/Picks: 1-1 (.500)
Over/Under: 1-2 (.333)
Regular-season series results:
- Oct. 30: Raptors 129, 76ers 112 (Scotiabank Arena)
- Dec. 5: Raptors 113, 76ers 102 (Scotiabank Arena)
- Dec. 22: 76ers 126, Raptors 101 (Wells Fargo Center)
- Feb. 5: Raptors 119, 76ers 107 (Wells Fargo Center)
4/27/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Philadelphia 76ers (51-31 reg. season, 4-1 postseason) vs. Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 4-1 postseason)
It seems that for most of the season, the 76ers and Raptors have been traversing parallel paths. Therefore, it seems only fitting they’ll meet in the postseason as well. The two squads finished 1-2 in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. They also each made a marquee addition at one of the wing spots this season, with both players serving as pivotal factors in each club’s success.
Toronto traded for Kawhi Leonard last offseason. His addition was a rousing success, as the veteran replicated his previous MVP-caliber of play. Leonard averaged a career-high 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, along with 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals, across 60 games. Then, Philadelphia added Jimmy Butler via trade in mid-November. He played in 55 games overall with the Sixers and posted 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals.
The two teams then proceeded to each play a five-game first-round series, ones where they suffered surprising home upsets in Game 1 and then bounced back impressively to sweep the next four contests. For the Raptors, it was a pesky Magic squad that jumped up and surprised them by a 104-101 score at Scotiabank Arena. Orlando gave Toronto another scare in Game at Amway Center, but the Raptors eventually prevailed in that game by a 98-93 margin and wrapped up the series at home last Tuesday.
In turn, the 76ers saw the Brooklyn Nets topple them by a 111-102 score at Wells Fargo Center in the opening installment of their first-round series. They too subsequently had another close call later in the series. The Sixers trailed for the majority of Game 4 at Barclays Center last Saturday and also lost Butler to ejection in that contest. However, they finished on an 8-2 run to prevail by a 112-108 score and break Brooklyn’s spirit in the process. Philadelphia would go on to win Game 5 in a blowout to advance to the second round.
The two squads would seemingly match up very closely on paper in terms of talent, with the 76ers arguably having the edge position-for-position. Yet, it was the Raptors with the clear advantage in the season series. And, the only victory Philadelphia managed to notch against Toronto came in a game that Leonard was sidelined. But, all four games between the teams occurred prior to Tobias Harris‘ arrival in Philly via trade. It remains to be seen how much more competitive he’ll make the 76ers against the Raptors, but there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll have a major impact. Harris averaged 17.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals in the first round versus Brooklyn.
With plenty of firepower on both teams and Pascal Siakam particularly emerging as an offensive force alongside Leonard for Toronto, there’s plenty to suggest a high-scoring game is likely to open the series. The fact both teams last played Tuesday adds to that probability, as a three-day break at this point in the season/postseason is priceless. Then, there are raw numbers that back up the notion. The Raptors are averaging 114.7 points per home game this regular season and postseason. The 76ers counter with an average of 112.6 points per road contest.
Philadelphia’s more suspect defense on the road and their pace of play also both led to high-scoring affairs. The 76ers are allowing 114.6 points per away tilt and doing so while yielding 46.0 percent shooting. They also come in averaging 106.2 possessions per game this season and postseason, the seventh highest in the NBA.
Finally, glancing at the offensive numbers of some of the most important pieces on each team during the regular-season matchup is worthwhile when considering the chances of the Over hitting:
- Leonard: 30.3 PPG on 48.1 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent from three-point range (three games)
- Kyle Lowry: 16.8 PPG (four games)
- Siakam: 15.8 PPG on 51.9 percent shooting (four games)
- Joel Embiid: 26.3 PPG on 49.3 percent shooting, including 40.0 percent from three-point range (four games)
- Ben Simmons: 16.3 PPG on 62.8 percent shooting
- Butler: 22.8 PPG on 50.0 percent shooting, including 44.4 percent from three-point range
By The Numbers
The Over is 44-43 (50.6 percent) in the 76ers’ games this season and postseason. That includes an 11-11 mark (50.0 percent) in their games as road underdogs. The Over is also 28-26 (51.8 percent) in games following a 76ers’ win and 11-10 (52.4 percent) in Philadelphia’s division games.
Then, the Over is 47-39-1 (54.6 percent) in the Raptors’ games this season and postseason. That includes a 24-20 mark (54.5 percent) in their games as home favorites. The Over is also 35-25-1 (58.3 percent) in games following a Raptors’ win and 9-7 (56.2 percent) in Toronto’s division games.
Finally, three of the four regular-season meetings between the teams this season exceeded Saturday’s projected total.
The Final Word
These two teams lit up the scoreboard more often than not when they got together this season. They’ve both had a chance to recharge the batteries after relatively tough first-round series, despite they both concluded in five games. The fresh legs should only serve to boost the offensive upside of each squad. Then, both teams’ stars proved capable of thriving in this matchup on multiple occasions this past season, also upping the chances of a higher-scoring game. As such, I see the total being at least slightly exceeded in Game 1.
The Pick: Over 222.0