Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 30: 28-29-1 ATS, 0-6 ML (minus-12.63 units), 37-23-1 Totals
Toronto (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) at Philadelphia (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS)
Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Free NBA Pick: Over
Recommended Sportsbook: 5Dimes
The talking heads of the sports world can breathe a little easier – the Philadelphia 76ers won’t get swept out of the second round. They beat the Toronto Raptors 94-89 on Tuesday, cashing in as 7.5-point road dogs on the NBA odds board and evening their series at one game apiece. Game 3 is Thursday night at the WFC; will the Raptors get their revenge?
It’s a toss-up. At press time, Toronto is available anywhere between –1 and +1 for Thursday’s matchup, depending on where you shop. And that’s a pretty sharp line, according to the hoop nerds at FiveThirtyEight. They have Game 3 pegged as a pick’em using their CARMELO-based algorithm. Dude, where’s our profit margin? Oh, here it is: The total is 214 points, down from 215 at the open, and that’s just begging for us to put the ‘over’ in our NBA picks.
A Shortage Of Corn
Thanks to the playoff schedule, we’ve got ample time to get this pick in before tip-off – and we’ve got Jeff Sagarin’s projections at USA Today to work with. Sagarin also has Thursday’s game as a virtual pick’em, but specifically with a combined score of 226.52 points. You could fit five Joel Embiids in the gap between his projections and the actual total.
This is what happens when the market over-reacts to previous events. Thursday’s total is down from 223 points in Game 1, and 220 points in Game 2 – both of which went ‘under’ by a wide margin. You know what’s coming next, don’t you? That’s right: regression to the mean on 3-pointers. Here’s how both teams shot from downtown up North:
Raptors: 9-of-27 (33.3 percent), 10-of-37 (27.0 percent)
Sixers: 11-of-32 (34.4 percent), 10-of-35 (28.6 percent)
That’s just brutal. Game 1 wasn’t too far beyond the pale; the Raptors won 108-95 as 6.5-point home faves, and looked like they were going to dominate Philadelphia in this series. Then in Game 2, they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a canoe. Danny Green (plus-0.2 OBPM, plus-1.7 DBPM in seven playoff games) shot 1-of-6 from behind the arc. Marc Gasol (plus-4.1 OBPM, plus-3.6 DBPM) shot 1-of-4. So did the entire Toronto bench combined.
The Sixers didn’t do very well themselves. Jimmy Butler (plus-2.9 OBPM, plus-0.8 DBPM) drew a lot of praise for taking over the offense in Game 2 and scoring 30 points, but he did it on 9-of-22 shooting. We expect better from both teams in Game 3, and since this is a very close contest on paper, overtime looms as a distinct possibility. Five more minutes! Stick that in your projections, and may the sphere be with you.