Welcome to the Sunday, May 12 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for Sunday’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: 4-1 (.800)
Moneyline: 1-0 (.1000)
Over/Under: 2-4 (.333)
Semi-final round series results:
- April 27: Raptors 108, 76ers 95 (Scotiabank Arena)
- April 29: 76ers 94, Raptors 89 (Scotiabank Arena)
- May 2: 76ers 116, Raptors 95 (Wells Fargo Center)
- May 5: Raptors 101, 76ers 96 (Wells Fargo Center)
- May 7: Raptors 125, 76ers 89 (Scotiabank Arena)
- May 9: 76ers 112, Raptors 101 (Wells Fargo Center)
5/12/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Philadelphia 76ers (51-31 reg. season, 7-4 postseason) vs. Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 7-4 postseason)
Faced with elimination in Game 6, the 76ers answered the call and lived to see one more day. Philadelphia was able to force Game 7 as a result of some key players stepping up their games and coming through with clutch performances that were much more befitting of their talent level than what they’d previously shown in the series.
That included Ben Simmons, who contributed a series-high 21 points while adding eight rebounds and six assists. Then, Joel Embiid bounced back from a pair of sub-par performances to post his second double-double of the series (17 points, 12 rebounds). And, Jimmy Butler continued his stellar play with a 25-point effort that also included eight assists, six rebounds and two steals.
When the Sixers’ Big Three is in that caliber of form, the result is often something akin to the 111-102 victory they forged Thursday. The performance actually more dominant than the final score indicated. However, Philly, like most teams, doesn’t quite hit on all cylinders as often on the road as it does at home. Factoring in the postseason, the 76ers are averaging well over six points fewer per game (111.3 compared to 117.9) when traveling.
Additionally, while the 76ers were 31-10 at home during the season, they were just 20-21 when traveling. In the playoffs thus far, the disparity is decidedly less over a much smaller sample, however. It’s a 4-2 postseason mark at WF Center for Philadelphia, compared to a 3-2 tally outside of it. Then, Butler has proven to be a steadying force no matter where he’s taken the floor. After a clunker of an opening game in the series, the veteran wing has scored no fewer than 22 points and as many as 30 in the subsequent five games. That includes an average of 26.0 points in the two road games following Game 1.
The Sixers have undeniably found Kawhi Leonard a nearly impossible puzzle to solve during the series. The All-Star forward has averaged 33.7 points on 56.1 percent shooting during the series, scoring fewer than 29 points on only one occasion and churning out four double-doubles, including three straight. Pascal Siakam has been an excellent “wing man” in a figurative sense for Leonard save for one game where he was struggling with a calf injury serious enough to warrant a doubtful designation.
But, the rest of Toronto’s front-line players have been a bit up and down, to say the least. That’s played an important part in the series maxing out to a seventh game. For example, Kyle Lowry has been inconsistent in both usage and efficiency. The veteran guard has been better over the last three games, but he’s still averaging a relatively modest 13.7 points on 41.9 percent shooting during the series. His long-distance work has been markedly worse — he’s draining just 24.9 percent of his three-point attempts in the first six games of the series.
Marc Gasol and Danny Green have been even more hit or miss. Gasol sports a minuscule 12.0 percent usage rate thus far this postseason, over five percent lower than any other playoff run of his career. He’s averaging just 9.0 points in the current series and doing so on 40.9 percent shooting, including 27.3 percent from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Green had his moments in Game 3-5, averaging 13.7 points during that span. But, he’s also turned in a trio of single-digit efforts (including two at home). He also shot just 25.0 percent in Game 6 on Thursday on his way to eight points.
By The Numbers
The 76ers are 7-4 (63.6 percent) against the spread this postseason.
Then, the Raptors 22-25 (46.8 percent) against the spread as home favorites this season and postseason. Toronto is also 13-14 (48.1 percent) versus the number following a loss this season and postseason. The Raptors are also 9-12 (42.9 percent) against the spread in games they’ve played with two or three days of rest.
The Final Word
The 76ers came through in fine fashion in Game 6, but that was in the extremely friendly backdrop of Wells Fargo Center. They’ll be faced with an exponentially more hostile environment Sunday while playing for all the marbles. Some of Philly’s key pieces have struggled in the road games during this series, but I see everyone stepping up their play with the stakes at hand. While I think home-court advantage ultimately carries the night for the Raptors, I’m leaning toward the 76ers hanging close enough to slide in under the number.
The Lean: 76ers +6