After making it to this round a year ago, the Sixers are back and ready for more. Their lineup looks a bit different this time around, with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris now the starters in place of Dario Saric and Robert Covington. They have not been back to the conference finals since Allen Iverson took the 2000-01 team to the Finals.
Toronto, on the other hand, is looking to make its second-ever trip to the conference finals. They lost to the Cavs in six games during the 2015-16 postseason. Three years later, they are four wins away from getting there again. The Cavs did away with them in the conference semis twice, but now they try their hand with Philly.
Toronto is a -5.5 point favorite for Game 1, with the over/under set at 223.
No Shortage of Sixers Weapons
Though he played just 24 minutes per game during the last round, Joel Embiid led the team with 24 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. He’s a sensational big man, who is ready for the task of taking on Marc Gasol now. All five starters averaged in double figures, as did one of the most efficient players that the game has ever seen in Boban Marjanovic. The other reserves struggled to produce, but it was Mike Scott who hit the big shot for the Sixers in Game 4 to give them a 3-1 lead on the Nets.
Though he still doesn’t have a jumper, Ben Simmons’ level of production has been impressive this postseason. The Nets weren’t able to do much to contain him after Game 1, while Tobias Harris has been burying the three. They are still working to finalize their rotations, but it should come to fruition this round.
New Raptors, New Result?
Over the past three years, Toronto has been eliminated by LeBron. This time, he is not here to have a chance to do so. And the Raptors have four players starting this time around who were not last time through. In Pascal Siakam, they have a guy who can create his own shot and finish with accuracy. Kawhi Leonard can get whatever he wants on offense, and he can lock down any single player on D. Marc Gasol can move the ball like any big man in the league plus defend. Danny Green is fantastic as a three-and-D guy. Oh, and don’t sleep on Kyle Lowry.
The bench is going to be important to the success of the Raptors. Fred Van Vleet is the first guy they bring in to score, but now that they have Serge Ibaka on the second unit, that should also help things. With OG Anunoby out of the lineup, look for Norman Powell to continue to get minutes. Jeremy Lin could see a few.
Raptors Take Game 1 at Home
Folks, be sure to bet TOR -5.5! The Raptors will win Game 1 in front of the home fans. They will set the tone for the series in picking up the first victory!
Free Pick: TOR -5.5