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The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers will square off on Thursday as Nick Nurse prepares to host the team he led to a championship a few years ago.
The Raptors scored a season-high 130 points against the Milwaukee Bucks yesterday and are top-10 in defensive rating. The Sixers, meanwhile, have not played since Sunday and will be well-rested against a team entering the second half of a back-to-back.
Here, we will react to the betting lines and share our favorite picks for Thursday’s Eastern Conference matchup.
The 76ers and reigning MVP Joel Embiid are heavy favorites over the Raptors, who are only 2-3 and 0-1 away from home.
Odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. Use our BetMGM promo code for a $1,500 welcome bonus.
|Toronto Raptors||+8.5 (+100)||+290||Over 215.5 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-8.5 (-120)||-375||Under 215.5 (-110)|
The Raptors are working to take on the personality of their new coach, Darko Rajaković. The early signs haven’t been anything outstanding, and they’re much stronger defensively than they are on offense.
Scottie Barnes is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder and has a stat line of 20.8 points, 10 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.4 blocks per night. Dennis Schroder is adapting to life north of the border well and is putting up 16.2 points and 9.2 assists per game through five contests.
The odd man out so far is Pascal Siakam. The two-time All-Star shoots the ball only 14.8 times per game, which is his lowest amount since 2018-19. He’s also down to 18 points per game after hitting at least 21.4 in each of the past four seasons and a career-high 24.2 a year ago.
The Raptors’ win against the Bucks was much-needed. They’d already lost to the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls, who look like two of the worst teams in the league. They also fell to the Sixers 114-107 just last week.
Philly’s offense has changed under Nurse and amid the absence and departure of James Harden. They’ve run far more hand-offs and fewer pick-and-rolls, resulting in a team that is third in the league in offensive rating.
Embiid is averaging 31 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 3.0 blocks, all of which lead the team. Tyrese Maxey has taken over the role of second option admirably and is pitching in another 30.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. Both Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre Jr. are scoring another 19 per night.
Philly’s defense was a little down on a year ago, but they’re 2-1, and their only loss was to the Bucks by one point. They’ll also soon have the compliments of Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris Sr., and KJ Martin, whom they received in the Harden trade.
It’s still too early to call, but the Sixers don’t yet look like they’ll be negatively impacted by the departure of Harden, especially considering his fall-off in the postseason during his two years with the team.
The Raptors were red-hot a night ago but are drawing the short straw in this particular matchup. While they’re heading into a back-to-back, the Sixers have been going through their practice reps and resting comfortably since Sunday. They should be able to sustain a much more energetic performance despite how early in the season it is.
The Raptors are only 20th in field goal percentage, while the Sixers are fifth. The defenses aren’t that disparate (though Toronto has the on-paper advantage), but Philly’s offense is significantly better.
The Sixers also won three of four matchups with the Raptors a year ago and have done nothing to make us believe they can’t put another feather in their cap. Nurse should also have a strong game plan ready to go after spending 10 years in Toronto and five as a head coach.
Watch for the Sixers to win, and win big.
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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