The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips as in-form Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors meet in a crunch game.
11:30 (AEDT), Mon 21st Mar @ Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
History: Played 115: Raptors 66 V 76ers 49
Last meeting: December 28, 2021: 76ers 114 d Raptors 109 at Scotiabank Arena
Final Thoughts: Philadelphia 76ers are jostling for position near the top of the Eastern Conference, while Toronto Raptors are striving to lift themselves out of the play-in tournament.
The 43-26 Sixers are second in the East, three games behind the Heat but with a lead of only three games or less on the four teams below them. Each win from here on out is crucial to ensuring the 76ers keep homecourt advantage for the First Round.
Philadelphia have won nine of their last 12 as the Joel Embiid-James Harden combination takes shape. They have put away the Cavaliers (118-114) on the road and Mavericks (111-101) at home in recent days. Embiid (32 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 5 stl) stuffed the stats sheet against Dallas, while Harden (24 pts, 7 reb, 12 ast) was also outstanding.
The seventh-placed, 39-31 Raptors pieced together an impressive five-game winning streak on the road – including the scalps of the Suns and Nuggets in consecutive days – before losing their first game back at home, 128-123 to the battling Lakers in overtime.
Scottie Barnes went off for career-high points (31) and rebound (17) tallies, but it wasn’t enough for Toronto. Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet (knee) has been ruled out of this game, putting extra responsibility on Gary Trent Jr and Pascal Siakam to step up.
Embiid (back soreness) is listed as questionable for the 76ers. But the MVP favourite has missed only two games since late-November.
The rivals have split their two encounters so far this season. The Raptors won 115-109 in November on the back of a superb performance from Fred VanVleet (32 pts, 6 reb, 7 ast). The Sixers struck back 114-109 in Toronto in December, Joel Embiid (36 pts, 11 reb) – who missed the initial clash – leading the way and Tobias Curry racking up a triple-double.
Philadelphia are a modest 20-15 at home (14-21 ATS) and only 6-5 since the start of February. Toronto are 22-15 on the road (23-13-1 ATS), winning 12 of their last 16 away.
Embiid’s availability is the key factor here, but expect him to play and the Sixers to get up. Even without VanVleet, though, the 6.5-point underdog Raptors should keep this close.
Best Bet: Margin – 76ers 1-10 @ $2.69
Same Game Multi: Result – 76ers; Total – Over 219; James Harden Assists – Over 9.5; Pascal Siakam Points – Over 23.5 @ $8.12