The Philadelphia 76ers are one step closer to a first-round sweep. Joel Embiid’s euphoric buzzer-beater in game 3 might have knocked the wind out of Toronto’s sails, leaving the Raptors in an all-or-nothing situation. Now down 3-0 in the series, they simply have to win tomorrow at the Scotia bank arena. But can the Sixers complete their first sweep since 1991?
Tip-off: 2PM EST
Where: Scotia bank arena
How to watch: The game will be streamed on TNT
The story so far
The first two games of the series were an all-Sixers affair. The Raptors had no answer for Philadelphia, with the combined winning margin of Philly being 33 points through two matchups.
21-year-old Tyrese Maxey stole the show in game 1, bursting into the spotlight and putting up 38 points.
Game 2 saw tensions rise as the Raptors tried to thwart Joel Embiid with physicality. That attempt backfired as the MVP front-runner is the one person you don’t want to get into a sparring match with, verbally or otherwise. Maxey and Harris supported in impressive fashion while Embiid drained nearly every free throw he was forced to take. The game was a lot more one-sided than the score suggests, as a very late
And then there was game 3. With 30 points to his name and all of them seeming to come in more eyebrow-raising fashion than the last, Embiid stood patiently. There were 0.8 seconds left on the game clock when the heroic center was able to receive the in-bounding pass, turn away from three-point range, and beat the buzzer to lift the Sixers to a 3-0 lead.
The Raptors are likely demoralized coming off that loss. They had a prime opportunity to swing momentum back into their favor. Matisse Thybulle was out (as he will be on Saturday), the Raptors were at home with a roaring crowd behind them and fired up after two losses where they looked powerless. Despite leading most of the way in game 3, they ultimately limped away looking more powerless than when they walked in.
This is going to be a desperation match for both sides. The Sixers will want to complete a sweep, burying the Raptors and their dreams of a second championship in four years by serving a dish called revenge. The Raptors know that a slow start here is likely going to mean that becomes a reality. They have to get VanVleet firing early and hope that Gary Trent can somehow match his career-night in game 3. Their 45% FG% isn’t going to cut it in game 4.
Pacing is going to be crucial and we’re bound to see more whack-a-Joel. The bad news for the Raptors is that the big-man is cold-hearted from the free-throw line and the concept damage limitation often ends up causing more hurt as tempers flare.
For the Sixers, they can technically afford to lift their feet off the gas if they want too, but it runs the risk of giving the Raptors a lifeline. Expect another near-40 minute night for guys like Harden and Harris. That leads us very neatly to the betting selections…
The Sixers are favored by 2.5 points going into this matchup and -139 favorites on the moneyline. The total sits a 213 points.
One line I really like is Tobias Harris’ points total. Surprisingly, Harris has been beyond efficient this series. He had 26 points in game 1, 20 in game 2, and 11 in game 3, along with a combined 28 boards throughout the series so far. His projected points total here is 15.5, which he has every chance of surpassing.
I also like the over in total. Sure, game 3 was a bit of a slug fest, but this is destined to be a high-tempo affair due to what’s on the line for both teams. If you’re expecting a high-octane showdown, then the over is the way to go.
Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire