The Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors are knotted at 1-all after the first two games of a second-round series that has the potential to go the distance.
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After the No. 2 Raptors routed the Sixers in Game 1, Philly answered in Game 2 behind a clutch performance from Jimmy Butler. Joel Embiid, who has struggled in the first two games, vows to take a different approach on offense and be more patient. The series now shifts to Philadelphia for the next two games, beginning with Game 3 on Thursday. The third-seeded Sixers have a big opportunity to take control of the series after already stealing home court away from Toronto.
Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers host Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors on Thursday in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, with tipoff from the Wells Fargo Center set for 8 p.m. ET. The series is tied 1-1 after Philadelphia took Game 2 in Toronto on Monday behind a 30-point effort from Jimmy Butler. The Sixers have to feel confident about having the series tied despite Embiid shooting 28 percent through two games. Embiid was questionable for Game 2 with an illness, but he appears good to go for Thursday's action. Even still, Toronto is listed as a 1.5-point road favorite, while the over-under for total points is 217 in the latest Sixers vs. Raptors odds. Before you make any Sixers vs. Raptors picks, you'll want to see the predictions for the NBA Playoffs 2019 from SportsLine's advanced computer model.
The model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, is crushing its NBA picks. It entered Week 28 of the 2018-19 NBA season with a sterling record on its top-rated picks, returning more than $3,100 in profit to anybody following them. And it has been particularly red-hot on its A-rated NBA money line picks, entering Week 28 on a strong 85-60 run. Anybody who has followed it is way up.
Now it has locked in on 76ers vs. Raptors. We can tell you it's leaning over, and it also says one side of the spread hits in nearly 60 percent of simulations. You can only see that selection at SportsLine.
The model is aware that Toronto has owned this matchup. The Raptors are 4-2 against-the-spread against Philly this season, and their defense has held the 76ers to just 105 points per game. The addition of Marc Gasol has been highly impactful for Toronto's defense. Gasol limited Nikola Vucevic in Round 1 and he is doing the same to Embiid in Round 2. Vucevic averaged just 11.2 points on 36 percent shooting against Gasol in Round 1 after averaging 20.8 points on 52 percent shooting during the regular season.
Offensively, Leonard has been the swingman through two games. The Sixers have had no answer for the Leonard, who is averaging an eye-popping 40 points and nine rebounds through the first two games. That was a theme during the regular season too, as Leonard averaged 31 points and eight rebounds against Philly.
Just because Toronto got the better of Philadelphia during the regular season, doesn't mean it is a lock to cover the Sixers vs. Raptors spread on Thursday in the NBA Playoffs 2019.
The model also knows that playing on their home court is a huge advantage for the Sixers. Philadelphia had one of the NBA's best home records (31-10) this season, and they covered the spread in 52.3 percent of their home games. Toronto had just a 47.6 percent cover rate on the road.