It’s a little easier to handicap the first quarter than the full game
Raptors (-1.5) @ Sixers (216.5)
Pick: Sixers 1st quarter +0.5
I think we saw enough in the other two games in Philadelphia after Game 1 against Brooklyn to where the playoff opener for the Sixers can be thrown out and we can trust them on their home floor. Philly coasted past the Nets in Games 2 and 5 outscoring the Nets by six in the first quarter of Game 2 and by 17 in the opening period of Game 5. Only the Celtics had a better first quarter point differential than the Sixers in the Eastern Conference in the regular season. Philadelphia is not an overly deep team and opted to go all in on its starting five with the Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris trades in an effort to get to the NBA Finals. Harris and Joel Embiid have not been themselves so far in this Toronto series and that will have to change if the Sixers are to win what is now a best-of-five. While home court advantage tends to elevate the play of role players more than stars, we’re thinking some home cooking will get Embiid especially off to a good start on Thursday. A team like the Sixers that has one of the best starting lineups in the NBA is going to cover a lot of first quarter spreads because your starters are playing the majority of the opening 12 minutes. Therefore, it’s a little easier to handicap the first quarter than the full game in this one as the Sixers will come out strong behind the home crowd in the first game of the series at Wells Fargo Center just how the Raptors came out firing in Game 1 north of the border.