Pair of Totals Plays Top Saturday's NBA Picks

Jay Pryce

Saturday, October 21, 2017 12:55 PM UTC

Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 12:55 PM UTC

Our top NBA picks for Saturday night feature a pair of totals bets in the 76ers-Raptors and Kings-Nuggets matchups. Click here for predictions.

Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors (-9, 215)

76ers officials are ruling out center Joel Embiid against the Raptors at Air Canada Center on Saturday. The defensive force is not cleared to play in back-to-back contests as he recovers from offseason surgery on his torn meniscus.

Philly will miss Embiid’s rim protection. The fragile big man has played in just 33 games since being drafted third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. The Sixers allow 105.0 points on 44.1 percent shooting in these contests. The defense averages 5.6 blocks, Embiid swatting 2.4 per game. Last season, when out of the lineup, Philly surrendered 110.3 points per game on 47.2 percent shooting.

Twice last year Philly squared off against the Raptors minus Embiid. The combined score hit 217 in the first encounter and 218 in the second. The Raptors shot 54.3 percent from the floor overall, scoring 117.5 points per game, a sum of 11 points better than projected.

The jury is still out on the new approach the Raptors adopted during the preseason, which sees some of the scoring load and minutes were taken away from backcourt duo Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Toronto crushed the Bulls 117-100 in the opener, going up by 27 points in the second quarter. Sporting a double-digit lead throughout, head coach Dwane Casey scrapped game plans and personnel rotations. The starters played at half-throttle.

Toronto is hoping to pull back from the iso game with Lowry and Derozan. The more team-oriented offense calls for greater ball movement, faster tempo, and extra 3-point attempts. Still, if Toronto finds itself in need of points, expect the superstar duo to take control and do what they do best. Outside of the playoffs, the team averaged 109 points per game with the two playing minutes last season, the ‘over’ striking in 60 percent of games (31-21-1). That’s the best bet here with Embiid out and the Sixers primed to give a greater challenge than the lowly Bulls. My NBA Pick for this matchup will be with the ‘Over’.

Free NBA Pick: Over 215.5Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets (-11, 215)

The Nuggets added many pieces during the offseason, including signing All-Star Paul Millsap from Atlanta at power forward. The team is crowded, and the starting lineup much different than in October 2016 with Jamal Murray, Wilson Chandler, and Nikola Jokic working their way into the first team. Gary Harris is the lone holdover at shooting guard.

What likely has not changed in Denver is the squad’s ability to cash ‘overs’ at a healthy rate at home. The record is 47-31-4 (60 percent) at Pepsi Center since head coach Michael Malone took over prior to the 2015 season. It’s a combination of altitude, pace, scoring ability, and lapses in defense pushing the number above the mark. The bet cashes, even more, when a weaker, slower defensive team is not in town. With a game total over 200, the mark improves to 44-24-3 (65 percent) overall.

Another constant with the Nuggets under Malone is their ability to collapse late in games. It happened again in the 106-96 season-opening loss at the Jazz Wednesday night. Denver did everything right through three quarters, but fell apart in the fourth, allowing a 27-3 Utah run. The player rotations are a work in progress, and similar issues will likely rise up versus the Kings. Sacramento, although integrating many new faces as well, will keep it close late and push the score above a 215 total. Pick ‘over” for your best bet.

Free NBA Pick: Over 214.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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