The No. 4 seed Philadelphia 76ers and the No. 5 seed Toronto Raptors meet in Game 6 of their NBA Playoffs series on Thursday at Scotiabank Arena.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead to start the series, the Sixers have seen their lead slowly slip away after Toronto has forced a game six. After a sluggish start to the series, the Toronto Raptors have reawakened and rediscovered their collective identity, controlling the boards, getting out in transition, and playing a swarming defense.
The Sixers have turned in back-to-back sloppy performances in which they have failed to put up the effort required to win.
This will be another juicy matchup as the Sixers must wake up because it is evident that this Toronto club has no intention of going away. Philadelphia is the more talented squad, but it has lost the last two games due to stupid mistakes.
The series has shifted, and if the Raptors force a Game 7, the Sixers will be seen as having suffered a tremendous collapse. The Sixers are the favorites on the road, as they enter this matchup as -1.5 road favorites, with the point total at 209.
Philadelphia 76ers Seek Series Win on the Road
The Sixers are still ahead in the series, but whether they realize it or not, the Raptors are putting more pressure on them now that they’ve made some progress.
However, the Sixers must be relieved to know that, regardless of what happens in Game Six, a potential Game Seven will be held in Philadelphia. Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 20 points in Game 5, but his hand injury seemed to slow him down in Game Six, as he shot just 7/15 from the field and only attempted six free throws.
Throughout this series, Joel Embiid’s damaged ligament in his thumb has been a huge talking topic. This season, the Sixers’ superstar has reached new heights, leading the NBA in scoring with 30.6 points per game.
Even if Embiid isn’t 100 percent, he’s still a formidable opponent. That’s also a hint for James Harden that it’s time for him to totally take charge.
In the series, Harden is averaging 18.4 points on 37.3 percent shooting. It’s time for the Sixers to flex their muscles once more, much like they did in the first round’s first three games.
Toronto Raptors Look to Force Game Seven at Home
The Raptors are on their way. Toronto isn’t known for its impossibilities. With Pascal Siakam leading the way, this is a team that appears to believe it can overturn a 3-0 series disadvantage.
In 44 minutes, Siakam had 23 points, ten rebounds, and seven assists, while Precious Achiuwa scored 17 points off the bench. As seen by Achiuwa’s performance in Game Five, the Raptors have made Embiid a target as they attempt to assault the injured big man.
Fred VanVleet remains doubtful for Game Six due to a hip injury, and on both ends of the court, VanVleet’s presence is critical for his Toronto team.
In the NBA, he’s developed into a solid defender who can help slow down players like James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. will shoulder the most of the load for the Raptors, who are averaging 104.4 points per game.
The Sixers have struggled against Toronto’s defense, shooting just 40.4 percent from the field in the last two games of the series. They should be in really good shape headed home, and the Raptors should be in a position to force a game seven.
Philadelphia 76ers/Toronto Raptors Betting Prediction
In NBA history, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series, but I think Toronto may have a chance in this series. The Raptors are on their way to achieving that goal, and they are only a 1.5-point underdog heading into Thursday’s game, but they have one major advantage.
That is, they have returned to their hometown of Toronto. In the playoffs, role players tend to perform better at home, which should help the Raptors progress to Game Seven of the loser-goes-home series.
The injury to Embid continues to haunt the 76ers, and without him playing at 100%, I’m not sure how effective this Philadelphia offense can be.
James Harden is not the player he used to be, and Tyrese Maxey has struggled after posting a monster line in game one. Back Toronto in this one to move this series to a Game Seven.
Betting Pick: Toronto Raptors +1.5
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