After taking a dominating 2-0 lead to start the series, the Philadelphia 76ers travel across the border to face the Toronto Raptors for the third game of the seven-game series. The game is set to tip-off at 8PM EST on Thursday and will be streamed on NBA TV.
The story so far
The Sixers come into this matchup with a full head of steam. Although the second game appeared closer in score, it’s mainly because the Raptors went on a 20-2 run in garbage time. A monstrous game from Joel Embiid put the game out of doubt long before then. The superstar ended with 31 points and 11 rebounds, thriving on the hostile energy between the two teams, going 11-12 from the free-throw line in the opening quarter as tempers flared.
In the first game, Tyrese Maxey was the man of the moment. He exploded into the spotlight by putting up 38 points and draining 5 of 8 three-point attempts, including a near half-court shot that saw the Wells Fargo Center erupt.
The real challenge for the Sixers in game three will be handling the loss of Matisse Thybulle, who will unable to play due to his vaccination status. He did only play 29 minutes combined in the opening two games, which should at least prove the team can hold their own without him. But being without a premier defender who snuck into the Defensive Player of the Year rankings will be huge for the Sixers. They allowed 105.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, an average of 10 fewer than when he was off of it.
The Sixers come into this matchup as 2.5 point favorites and -135 on the moneyline, while the total is set at 214.
This is a little deceiving. It’s easy to look at the opening two games in which the Sixers won by a combined 33 points, and jump on the handicap here. However, they’re going on the road which will favor Toronto. On top of that, Matisse won’t be in the lineup and that’s going to put a defensive strain on the Sixers.
With that said, slowing down Embiid has been an impossible task for Nick Nurse’s side, who surrendered 30+ free-throws in both games so far. The Raptors have had no response for the Harden-led offense that only pushed Embiid further into the spotlight, and although they’ have home-court advantage, I don’t think that’s enough to get within a score. The Sixers should be able to hold their heads above water with relative ease here.
Betting pick: 76ers -2.5
Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire