The Sixers Sunday try to overcome a 3-2 series deficit and win a Game 7 for the first time since 1955, when they were the Syracuse Nationals and won the NBA title by coming back to top the Fort Wayne Pistons in the Finals. (Full disclosure: both Games 6 and 7 were home games in Syracuse that season as the playoff format was 2-3-2.)
Four things have to happen for the Sixers to complete that Game 6/7 Double Sunday. And we wagered on all of them.
> Jimmy Butler has to be active, and it doesn’t have to points.
Oh, he’ll get his, I am just not sure it will be the 23 or 24 needed to get the Over. Toronto realizes he is Alpha 1B when Joel Embiid is not himself (he will be today, BTW) and will look to limit Butler’s scoring. But Jimmy – as well as his alter ego James – knows the game and can quietly rack up a half dozen assists before you know it. He is averaging 6.1 after dealing zero dimes in the playoff opener.
> Someone has to make sure JJ Redick’s jumper gets through customs.
Redick is the only NBA player to have appeared in each of the last 13 postseasons. Experience counts here.
The Sixers have played 12 playoff quarters in Toronto and Redick has made a three-pointer in just three of them, including none in the first (0-2) or fourth quarters (0-4). He is a career 39.7% shooter from the arc in five career Game 7s. That works just fine here if his teammates make sure he gets to double-digit attempts Sunday.
> Win the first quarter.
Every team that has won the first 12 minutes has won the game in this series. (Elsewhere in the league, that number is 34-21 through Saturday for these playoffs.) Brett Brown should have already written that down on the locker room chalk board, white board, laptop, whatever.
And the price here is the best of any Prop we found all day (+140).
> Win the third quarter.
We have no idea if Brown will or should be back if they lose Game 7. Maybe some day the club will give him a full season with the same set of tools and let him work with that, but that is for a different day.
For us, the way a team plays coming out of the locker room twice each game says a lot about the players and their relationship to the coach and each other. For the most part, the Sixers have started those quarters well in this series. They shall do so again here and sustain it.
So . . . 10, 9, 8 on to Milwaukee . . .
Pick: JJ Redick Over 14.5 Points (-120)
Pick: Jimmy Butler Over 5.5 Assists (-110)
Pick: Sixers to Win First Quarter (+140)
Pick: Sixers to Win Third Quarter (+125)