The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are ready to kick off their playoff series with Game 1 in Philly. Can the Raptors steal one early to put more pressure on the Sixers, who won’t have Matisse Thybulle for Games 3 and 4?
Catch this game live on April 17, at 6:00 AM, Manila time.
Away: Toronto Raptors (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Fred VanVleet
- SG: Gary Trent Jr.
- SF: OG Annoy
- PF: Scottie Barnes
- C: Pascal Siakam
The Raptors were projected to win 34 games this year, and it certainly looked like that early in the season. However, they went 33-17 from January to April, skyrocketing themselves into the fifth seed. They’re going to be pretty confident heading into Game 1, considering they own a 3-1 record against the Sixers in the regular season.
Pascal Siakam, who played in three of those games, averaged 30.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists and only 2.7 turnovers in that span. Gary Trent Jr. took part in all four games and averaged 19.5 points, while Chris Boucher had 16 points and 10.5 boards in four games. Rookie Scottie Barnes, who played against the Sixers three times (all of them wins), had 13 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game.
The biggest boost that they’ll also get is that Fred VanVleet is not on the injury list heading into Game 1. He only took to the court against the Sixers once, and put up 32 points, six rebounds, seven assists and a steal with one turnover. On paper, it looks like the Raptors are a team built to beat the Sixers.
Home: Philadelphia 76ers (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Tyrese Maxey
- SG: James Harden
- SF: Matisse Thybulle
- PF: Tobias Harris
- C: Joel Embiid
The Sixers’ hopes against the Raptors in this series rest heavily on Joel Embiid’s shoulders. He averaged 29 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists along with a steal and a block against Toronto in three regular season games, but his shooting averages weren’t great (46.6 FG%, 20.0 3P%). Sophomore Tyrese Maxey, who has made a huge leap this year, was the Sixers’ second-best scorer against the Raptors with 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists averaged in four games.
Game 1 is where James Harden will also need to step it up from a scoring perspective. In two games against the Raptors as a 76er this season, he averaged 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and 11.5 assists. Harden will need to score the ball more, because the Raptors will expend a lot of energy hounding Embiid the entire game.
Spread: I think the Raptors have what it takes to cover the +4.5.
Over/Under: I’m liking the over 216 for this one.