Welcome to the Thursday, May 2 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for today’s 76ers-Raptors playoff matchup 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: 2-1 (.667)
Over/Under: 1-3 (.250)
Semi-final round series results:
- April 27: Raptors 108, 76ers 95 (Scotiabank Arena)
- April 29: 76ers 94, Raptors 89 (Scotiabank Arena)
5/2/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Philadelphia 76ers (51-31 reg. season, 5-2 postseason) vs. Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 5-2 postseason)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 217.0)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 217.0)
888 Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 217.0)
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -1.5 (o/u: 217.0)
Apparently, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned series-opening loss to wake the 76ers up in the postseason. After getting upended by the Raptors in Game 1 by a 108-95 score, Philadelphia was much more effective defensively in particular during Game 2. That allowed them to eek out a 94-89 win in one of the toughest road environments in the NBA. Toronto forged a 32-9 record on their home floor of Scotiabank Arena, and they owned a 5-1 postseason record there prior to Monday night’s loss.
Jimmy Butler‘s surge was the key to victory in Game 2. The talented wing exploded for 30 points and took a robust 22 shots. That helped make up for atypically low-usage games from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who put up just 13 attempts between them. Then, Tobias Harris managed to drain just three of 11 attempts on his way to a modest nine points. However, the star forward contributed 11 rebounds to help make up for his offensive shortfall. Philadelphia encouragingly saw James Ennis III turn in 13 points off the bench, an especially valuable contribution on a night when several stars turned in sub-par performances.
Greg Monroe‘s 10 points and five rebounds in a reserve role were also important, but the veteran big man turned his ankle and was forced to exit the game temporarily. While he was able to return to the bench after being examined in the locker room, Monroe only played 12 minutes overall and is now questionable for Game 3. However, Philly is deeper at center than arguably any other position. Boban Marjanovic is poised to jump into action behind Embiid if Monroe is unable to go.
On the Raptors’ side in Game 2, the Big Three of Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry all showed up, but Toronto got little else from the rest of their roster. Leonard in particular has proven a virtually impossible puzzle for the 76ers to solve. He’s averaging 40.0 points (on 61.9 percent shooting) and 9.0 rebounds through the first two games of the series. Lowry was also effective Monday with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, but his track record against the Sixers this season is a bit spottier. He’s shooting just 40.7 percent in four total games versus Philly. That’s not particularly surprising, considering the 76ers are holding point guards to a bottom-10 figure of 42.8 percent shooting this season and postseason.
Toronto has to be a bit concerned about the imbalance in the contributions from their starting five. Marc Gasol and Danny Green combined to go just 1-for-14 from the field in Game 2. Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka, a highly reliable complementary asset all season, went just 1-for-5 himself while logging just 13 minutes Monday. While Ibaka’s struggles may have been an outlier, it’s worth noting the difficulties Green and Gasol encountered may be more than just a one-game occurrence. Green is now averaging just 6.5 points on 31.3 percent shooting, including 25.0 percent from three-point range, versus Philadelphia this season and postseason. Then, Gasol is also averaging just 6.5 points on 31.4 percent shooting in the first two games of the series.
Finally, the 76ers’ impressive home metrics are worth noting when evaluating their chances of a cover and a win Thursday. The Sixers are now averaging an impressive 118.6 points per Wells Fargo Center contest this season and postseason. That figure is largely the byproduct of a 48.5 percent success rate from the floor. In turn, Philly has made teams work for their points on their home court. They’re allowing just 44.7 percent of attempts against them at WF Center to find the net.
By The Numbers
The Raptors are 41-47-1 (46.6 percent) against the spread overall this season and postseason. That includes a 20-22-1 mark (47.6 percent) as a road team, and an 11-16-1 tally (40.7 percent) as a road favorite specifically. Toronto is also 12-13 (48.0 percent) versus the number after a loss this season and postseason and 8-11 (42.1 percent) against the spread in games they’ve played with two or three days of rest.
Then, the 76ers are 5-2 (71.4 percent) against the spread overall this postseason and 10-7 (58.8 percent) over the last two postseasons overall. Philadelphia is also 23-21 (52.3 percent) versus the number as a home team this season and postseason. And, the 76ers are 15-10 straight up (60.0 percent) in games they’ve played with two or three days or rest.
The Final Word
The 76ers got their mojo back in Game 2, and they now get a chance to reap the benefits of their home court. With the series “settling in” after two games, this could well be an even tighter contest than Game 2. The Raptors are somewhat surprisingly slim favorites, but I see Philadelphia riding home-court momentum to not only slide in under the number, but to also notch a victory and take a lead in the series as well.
The Pick: 76ers +1.5, 76ers moneyline