Toronto Raptors (3-2 SU & ATS) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (2-3 SU & ATS)
Free NBA Pick: Sixers +2 (-101)
Recommended Sportsbook: Pinnacle
Bookmakers opened the betting doors for game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-final clash between the No.2 seed Toronto Raptors and No. 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers with the hosts trading as the nominal home underdogs at +1.5 (-110).
That the market outlook is distinctly against the home team has everything to do with the way the series currently stands, in favour of the Raptors who lead 3-2. As well, the manner in which they defeated the 76ers in game 5. A resounding defeat that many NBA pros and Joes believe was the Raptors dropping down the gauntlet and sending a signal to the rest of the playoff field of their championship intentions.
Speaking of the NBA championship you can back the Toronto Raptors to lift the coveted prize at a tasty +800 with Heritage Sportsbook. Just saying.
Since early doors the game 6 line for this much anticipated clash has crept up to +2 at most reputable online sportsbook with some such as Pinnacle Sportsbook offering juice as low as +2 (-101).
The move on the NBA odds board is telling. In part it’s due to the Raptors taking the slight edge over the 76ers in bets coming down the wire and bookies having to balance the action. As it is, consensus betting shows the Raptors have 52% of early bets. Evidently, the public is ever so slightly leaning towards the Raptors wrapping up the series in game 6 on the road.
And why wouldn’t they, seriously. The Raptors are coming off one of their best games in the series. Heck, the playoffs as a whole. They dealt the biggest defeat on the Sixers to date behind a 125-89 victory in T.Dot.
The victory marks their second straight victory of the series and their first lead of the series after going down 1-2 following a most embarrassing game 3 in which the team were left exposed and wanting.
Game 4 marked the significant turnaround when the Raptors reclaimed home advantage behind a 101-96 victory in Philadelphia to cover as the +2 road underdogs. The real Raptors finally showed up to the playoffs. No more lackadaisical contributions, hoping Kawhi Leonard would do it all single-handed.
Play came from top to bottom of the bench with every player doing his bit to push the pace. Game 5 saw them strengthen their grip on the series with more united play as they went on to a franchise best win and cover as the -6 home favourites.
Should the Raptors burst out of the gates in game 6 it’s hard to see how the Sixers will stop them, even with home advantage. Yet, it’s a must win game for the hosts if they hope to keep their bid in the playoffs alive and it might be foolish to discount them just yet.
There have been momentum swings in this series so it’s reasonable to expect more when so much is on the line – a berth in the Eastern Conference final. This game could go either way, but for it to go the way of Philadelphia Sixers need Joel Embiid to be 100%, which is a stretch considering his knee issues and respiratory infection.
It’s easy to react to the preceding game, particularly when Philly looked as effective as a junior varsity basketball team taking on one of NBA’s elites. However, in sports every game is a new chance. A new opportunity to seize the day. If Embiid somehow finds the form he showed in game 3 and the rest of the Sixers remember how to play basketball at the NBA level, this series could go to the final deciding game 7.
In short, Philly still have a fighting chance and could make it a close one after all. It’s a longshot bet so don’t go betting the farm on it.