Game: Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Odds: 76ers -1.5, Raptors +1.5
It could happen again. Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers has been in this situation before and critics are all over him. After the 76ers went up 3-0, they promptly lost Game 4 in Toronto. That gave Philly a 3-1 lead in the series. In his career, Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to have blown three different 3-1 leads in the playoffs. The last team coached by Rivers to do it was the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020.
Toronto won in Philadelphia in Game 5 by holding the Sixers to just 88 points. The Raptors’ defense was suffocating and Philadelphia responded by not shooting very well. Philly shot 38.3 percent from the floor overall and just 27 percent from three-point range. NBA teams don’t win many games when that happens. If Philadelphia is going to advance, they will have to shoot better in Game 6. One issue the Sixers will have is Matisse Thybulle who will not be available for the game in Toronto. Thybulle’s vaccination status prevents him from entering Canada.
The Raptors will have their own problems too. Guard Fred VanVleet, who averages over 20 points a game, is listed as doubtful for tonight. He didn’t play in Game 5, which actually wasn’t a bad thing. Toronto started a lineup that included just one true guard – Gary Trent Jr. That lineup was simply tougher than Philadelphia all game long. Look for the same lineup to start again and make life difficult for the Sixers.
As mentioned, Rivers is the only NBA coach to ever blow three 3-1 playoff series leads. Keep in mind though that no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. Toronto has a great opportunity to win Game 6 at home. The Raptors are 8-2 SU in their last ten games at home. More importantly, they are 16-4 SU in the last 20 games at home against Philadelphia.
Despite two consecutive losses and playing on the road, Philly is the favorite tonight. They are the higher seed and have still won eight of their last 11 games. The Sixers are 4-2 ATS in their last six games, but they have not done well historically against Toronto. In the last nine meetings with the Raptors, Philadelphia is 3-6 ATS. The Sixers haven’t done well on the road either with just a 1-6 ATS mark in their last seven road games.
After a Game 1 that saw Philly score 131 points and win by 20, the last four games have gone Under the posted total. In following the trend in this series, tonight’s total is the lowest of the series so far at 210.5. Three of the five games in the series so far have gone Under 210.5 and the last three games have averaged just 202.7 points.
Both teams lean Under for the season. With Toronto facing elimination, look for the pace to slow as every possession counts.