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If you watched the Philadelphia 76ers dismantle the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, you may have been thinking, "Man, I wish I had put some money on the Sixers to win this series." Well, I have good news for you. Philly is currently -150 on BetMGM to defeat the Raptors in six games or less.
The Raptors are already on the verge of extinction
Philadelphia opened the series as a -175 favorite. With one game already in hand, the price jumped to -450. That's a bit too much juice to lay, in the case that something happens to scoring juggernaut and MVP finalist Joel Embiid. I love the idea of taking the Sixers -1.5 on the series spread at -150, though.
Toronto is a well-constructed team led by an exceptional coach in Nick Nurse. The Raptors found the perfect cogs for their machine when they acquired Gary Trent Jr. at the trade deadline last season, then selected Scottie Barnes fourth overall in the 2021 NBA draft. Both players are expected to miss Monday night's game in Philly, and it's unclear when they'll be back.
Barnes has already been ruled out for Game 2 after suffering a nasty ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of Saturday's contest, when Embiid came down on his left foot. Trent struggled through a non-COVID illness in Game 1, clutching his chest and coughing while shooting 2-of-11, and is doubtful to suit up for Game 2. Thaddeus Young also succumbed to injury and is doubtful to play because of a hyperextended finger.
Stats-wise, the Raptors are without two of their five players who average double-digits in scoring. More importantly, they're missing two of the parts that really make this machine hum. Barnes is a budding do-it-all star who impacts the game on both ends of the court. Trent led the Raptors in steals and is the best 3-point shooter for a Toronto team that ranked 20th this season in shooting percentage from downtown.
Losing both of these starters shifts the burden of pressure onto Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby. This Raptors machine wasn't built for that kind of load, especially against Philly's roster. Siakam led Toronto in scoring this season with 22.8 points per game, but now he has to produce against Embiid with less help around him.
How effective will Barnes and Trent be when they return? Maybe there won't be any lingering fatigue for Trent, but that's not guaranteed. Barnes was in a heap of pain on Saturday and is presently in a walking boot.
The Sixers have a concern of their own with Matisse Thybulle disqualified from playing in Toronto due to his vaccination status. With the emergence of Tyrese Maxey as a bona fide threat, though, I can easily see Philly stealing a game beyond the border. A fully healthy Raptors team could have made for a fun series, but that dream is over. Philadelphia wins this in six games or less.
Stats provided by Basketball Reference, teamrankings.com, StatMuse, and nba.com.