Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers: Predictions and Odds
The Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors currently sit comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference with a game and a half lead over the Milwaukee Bucks, and a three game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Toronto Raptors have already taken two matches from the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Despite the presence and performance from Embiid, it was the Toronto Raptors centres that proved they were too much to handle for the Sixers front court.
In this upcoming match the Raptors will be without their two main inside presences in Ibaka and Valanciunas and will have to rely on the contributions of veteran centre Greg Monroe and two-way standout Chris Boucher.
The Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are currently on a roll, going 6-4 in their last ten matches and sitting third in the Eastern Conference. Just one and a half games back from the Bucks and three games back from the Raptors, the Sixers surely think they can make their way to number one by Christmas break.
Unfortunately, when facing more definitive adversity in the Pacers, Nets, and Spurs, the Sixers faltered. The Sixers did take two wins from a home and home against the Detroit Pistons, but a win against the Raptors will help them define themselves as Eastern Conference contenders.
After their match against the Raptors, the Sixers will be departing on a five-game road trip that will see them play on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. With such an intense holiday schedule coming up, The Sixers will want to leave home riding a high.
What’s At Stake?
The Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers have been rivals in the Atlantic Division for years. In 90 regular season games, the Toronto Raptors lead the all-time series 53-37.
Should the Toronto Raptors win, they would simultaneously gain a game over the Bucks and Sixers in the East while plummeting the Sixers to four games behind first place.
While the Sixers are fighting to reach first place, a win for them would allow the Bucks a closer grasp at the first place Raptors putting them just a half game behind first place, as the Sixers would narrow the margin to two games.
Questions to answer
Will Embiid finally beat the Raptors front court?
Can the Raptors bench sustain with their primary players out?
We are going to compare the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.
Embiid Has Less Competition
On December 12th the Raptors lost Valanciunas indefinitely to a broken finger, while on December 18th Serge Ibaka was shut down on a day-to-day basis to rest a swollen knee. In their place, Greg Monroe who has been played sparingly this season and Chris Boucher who has been in the G-League (yet is playing at a G-League MVP level) for the majority of this season.
Embiid has had two very different matches against the Raptors this season. Posting 31 points and 11 rebounds on October 30th, while also producing 10 points and 12 rebounds on 5-17 shooting on December 5th. Meanwhile, Ibaka and Valanciunas have combined for 44 & 16 and 39 & 12 in each respective match.
Embiid is yet to solve the puzzle of the Raptors front court depth. With the Raptors current injuries however, look for Embiid to demand a more concentrated effort in order to take down the Ratpors.
The Raptors May Go Extra Deep
To say the Toronto Raptors have been injury-riddled this season would be an understatement. Throughout the season they are yet to field a fully healthy roster and have thus been forced to put out mixed rotations of rarely seen pieces.
Against the Pacers, the Raptors sported a lineup of Delon Wright-Malachi Richardson-Norman Powell-Pascal Siakam-Chris Boucher. Likely a lineup not seen for the Raptors since training camp, head coach Nick Nurse admitted they were even reviewing plays not seen since training camp.
With the likelihood of Lowry, Ibaka, and Valanciunas being out again, Nick Nurse will surely call upon the likes of Lorenzo Brown, Malachi Richardson, and Chris Boucher to contribute at some point. Whether or not they can contribute valuably is the main question.
Toronto Raptors Roster Notes
C Jonas Valanciunas (finger) had surgery on his finger and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks before being reevaluated.
G Kyle Lowry (thigh) is unlikely to play any part of the Raptors Friday-Saturday back-to-back.
F-C Serge Ibaka (knee) is listed as questionable for the match.
G Danny Green (knee) says he intends to play after receiving a knock against the Pacers.
F-C Chris Boucher, remains with the senior team as Valanciunas and Ibaka remain out of the lineup.
C Greg Monroe will continue to start while Valanciunas and Ibaka are out of the lineup.
Philadelphia 76ers Roster Notes
G Markelle Fultz (shoulder) remains out indefinitely.
G Zhaire Smith (foot) is targeting a 2019 return to the court.
C Justin Patton (foot) remains out indefinitely after being traded to the Sixers earlier this year.
Kawhi Has Carried the Raptors Lately
Kawhi Leonard is having the season of his career so far. After a forgettable 17-18 season, his acquisition by the Toronto Raptors has thrusted him into MVP territory. Currently averaging 26.4 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, career-highs, Leonard has increased his productivity while maintaining his excellent shooting efficiency.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, Leonard has had to carry them as of late due to Leonard’s supporting cast failing to find the mark. Against the Pacers the Raptors shot only 40% from the field and only 39% against the Nuggets.
Leonard has far and away maintained the highest usage-rate of all of his Toronto Raptors teammates throughout their past three-game stretch. With likes of Ibaka, Lowry, and Valanciunas out, Leonard is now the only Toronto Raptor left on the court that is competent enough to generate his own offence. Against the Sixers, the Toronto Raptors will need a concentrated team effort.
Joel Embiid Wants More Touches
Joel Embiid has made it very well known that he wants more touches in the flow of the offence for the Philadelphia 76ers. Embiid is frustrated with his role, stating that he’s being used as more of a floor-spacer than a post-threat as is he more known to be.
It is more about system for the Sixers than it is attempts for Embiid. Embiid still attempts more than eighteen field goals per game, but is only shooting 27% from three. It is a balancing act for the young team, as the usage of Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons almost forces the offence to be run through them due to their own offensive limitations.
The Raptors are out their two star big men and this very well may be a game where Embiid can feast. The Raptors tend to pressure Philadelphia ball handlers high to force turnovers, so switching over to a post-centric offence to take advantage of the Raptors current lack of depth may benefit Embiid on this day.
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers Predictions and Odds
The odds makers have the Philadelphia 76ers favoured over the Toronto Raptors by 4.5, with an over/under of 110.