Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through May 2: 28-29-1 ATS, 0-6 ML (minus-12.63 units), 37-24-1 Totals
Toronto (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) at Philadelphia (6-2 SU and ATS)
Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Free NBA Pick: Over
Recommended Sportsbook: Matchbook
If it weren’t for bad luck, the Toronto Raptors wouldn’t have any luck at all. They had another horrible shooting night against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, hitting just seven of their 27 3-point attempts (25.9 percent), while the 76ers shot 10-of-23 (43.5 percent) from long range. Final score: Toronto 95, Philadelphia 116, with the Sixers cashing in as 1.5-point home dogs on the NBA odds board.
As you may recall, we recommended the ‘over’ here at the home office, with the total dipping to 214 points as we went to press. They closed at 216, so at least we got a good price, but Toronto buried us under a pile of bricks. So of course we’re going back to the well and putting the ‘over’ in our NBA picks for Game 4. The total is 214.5 points at press time, down from 215 at the open, and that’s plenty low enough for us to jump in with a chunky bet.
For confirmation, we turn once again to Jeff Sagarin and his magical computer projections at The USA Today. He has Sunday’s game ending with a final score of 226.54 points, up 0.02 points from Game 3. There’s our profit margin, folks. No, not the 0.02 points – we mean the 12 points (rounding down) between the projections and the actual total.
If NBA totals aren’t your thing – perhaps you don’t like money – then you might be all right putting some coin on the Sixers. Sagarin has Philadelphia projected as a very slight favorite of 0.20 points, while the spreads have them at +1.5, up from +1 when the lines first hit the board. The hoop nerds at FiveThirtyEight also project Sunday’s game as a pick’em. It’s not the 2-point difference we’re looking for as a rule of thumb, but it’s something.
Be The Ball
We’re not inclined to wade into that spread, though. The Sixers are getting lots of praise for their grit and determination and all those other “intangibles’ that defy quantitative analysis. We’re not going to pooh-pooh that here – it’s not 2015 anymore, people. Some of Toronto’s malaise from the perimeter can indeed be chalked up to lack of confidence in their shooting, Marc Gasol (1-of-5 the past two games) and Fred VanVleet (0-of-9) in particular. Mindset matters.
Regression to the mean is still our mantra for Game 4. The Raptors have shot 30.0 percent on their wide-open threes (with the nearest defender six feet or more away) in this series, and 25.0 percent on their open threes (4-6 feet away). That’s just not normal, even if it may seem like the new normal after the last couple of games. Bet accordingly, shop smart, and may the sphere be with you this Sunday.