The Plus-Money Series bet to be made on Thursday (April 28)

76ers vs. Raptors Odds

76ers odds -1.5
The odds of raptors +1.5
More less 209.5
Weather 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA Television
Odds via BetMGM. Keep up to date NBA odds here.

The Toronto Raptors have continued to defy expectations and have now won back-to-back games after starting the series with a 3-0 record. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, are quickly losing the momentum they built early in the series.

Has Joel Embiid’s injury opened the door for a comeback or will the Raptors finally fall?

It’s Game 6 in The 6, let’s break it down.

Can Philadelphia survive Joel Embiid’s injury?

The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Matisse Thybulle for Game 6 due to his incomplete vaccination status. It will impact their depth and defense, but it’s not as big an issue as Embiid’s hand.

Embiid’s thumb injury is significant and not something that can be dismissed. I wrote about that last game and the torn ligament in his thumb is going to be a problem throughout the playoffs. Embiid isn’t as effective or efficient with the injury and if he doesn’t play 100 percent, the 76ers are going to have an uphill battle.

One concern is that we’ve seen the 76ers eFG% drop from 61.5% to just 48.1% since Embiid’s injury. However, Philadelphia’s expected eFG% didn’t change much, dropping only 0.2% from 54.9% to 54.7%, per Cleaning the Glass. This bodes well for some positive regression. However, that’s partly because the Raptors took a different look at Philadelphia.

The absence of Fred VanVleet has been one of the main differences lately. With VanVleet sidelined, James Harden doesn’t have a natural change on the offensive end of the ball and it’s been harder to find the lag against the Raptors’ length and athleticism.

Additionally, the Raptors found success doubling Embiid nearly every time on the floor. He’s always struggled with double teams and now he’s dealing with it while injured and in the playoffs. The 76ers must adapt on the offensive end to survive Embiid’s injury.


Pascal Siakam was key for Toronto

The Raptors listed VanVleet as questionable with the hip injury he suffered in Game 4, but they handled his injury well considering he was less overall this series. He was a defensive screener and with him off the ground, the Raptors can play a longer, more athletic formation, which helps them turn everything on defense. They also led the attack by Pascal Siakam.

Siakam was arguably the most important and best player in this series. He has a +/- of +14.6 and played by far the most minutes for Toronto. Additionally, the Raptors adapted to the way the 76ers were defending Siakam. The 76ers basically used Embiid to help the defense rather than using him as Siakam’s main defender.

Now the Raptors are using that to their advantage. Siakam is a great passer and every time Embiid comes to help Siakam, the Raptors send a weak side cutter (like Precious Achiuwa) or Siakam looks to the perimeter for OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes or Gary Trent Jr. The Raptors have an advantage tall on the perimeter against Harden and Maxey and are able to reverse those open looks.

The Raptors were also able to survive without VanVleet thanks to Scottie Barnes’ performance alongside Siakam. When Barnes and Siakam played together, the Raptors have +12 points per 100 possessions, scoring 122.6 points per 100 while allowing just 110.6 per 100. Those are the best marks in the playoffs and their versatility leads the Raptors to success.

76ers-Raptors Pick

Morale is low in Philadelphia and at this point the pressure is entirely on the 76ers to close this series. Can they do it in Toronto? I am not convinced.

Back in Game 1 I told you to bet the 76ers to win Game 1 and the Raptors to win the series at (+450) largely because of how Nick Nurse makes adjustments, something that Doc Rivers is not necessarily famous. If you haven’t followed this advice, you can still catch the Raptors to win the series at +550 on DraftKings, which is my favorite game over the Raptors’ moneyline.

I don’t trust this 76ers team with Embiid’s injury and inability to adapt. While Philadelphia should see positive regression in shooting the basketball, the Raptors seemed to have found the lineups to employ against the 76ers. It’s Rivers’ turn to adapt.

For you Sixers fans, it’s time to cover your happiness and grab that Raptors ticket so that at least your wallet is happy, even if your heart is broken.

To take: Raptors to Win Series +550 (DraftKings)

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