NBA Playoffs Tuesday: Time for the 76ers to panic? Frank picks Sixers vs Raptors and Trail Blazers vs Nuggets
Sixers (+6.5) @ Raptors (211.5)
Pick: Sixers +6.5
For the first time in this series, I feel pretty good taking the Sixers side for the full game. This feels like a great chance to buy low on Philadelphia. The Sixers lost Game 4 by five points with Joel Embiid battling through an illness and Ben Simmons finishing with a rating of -16. Tobias Harris has also yet to play his best game of the series. Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick have been the most consistent Sixers so far in this series and so with that in mind maybe Philly is fortunate to be tied at 2 here despite being close to going up 3-1 on Sunday. We’ve had two blowouts and two close games in this series and the winning team has covered all four games. It’s the Sixers turn to respond after Toronto answered the bell in a virtual must-win in Game 4. Brett Brown’s team has been good in this spot all season long having covered after both of its previous playoff losses, and going 19-12 ATS after a loss in the regular season. The Sixers’ roster is top-heavy and so when you have the kind of upper echelon talent Philly does, multiple stars need to be bad multiple games in a row for the team to not cover each time. I’m not buying Embiid, Simmons and Harris all not playing well again on Tuesday night for the Sixers. I thought this line would open with the Raptors as 3-4 point chalk so with Philadelphia getting over two possessions, I’m taking the 6.5.
Trail Blazers (+4.5) @ Nuggets (213.5)
Pick: Under 213.5
Hats off to Denver for responding well in a tough place to play on Sunday night and getting even with Portland heading back to the Mile High City. We want to focus on the last part of that sentence in tonight’s handicap. Unsurprisingly, Denver has been one of the better under teams in the NBA for the regular season and postseason. In 93 Nuggets games combined, the under is 51-41-1. Adjusting to the altitude for visiting teams in Denver probably has a lot to do with this. So far in the playoffs, the under is 4-2 in Denver’s six home games. While the over is 3-1 in this series, from a handicapping perspective you should treat it as 2-2. Game 3 had 204 total points in regulation which would have landed comfortably under the closing total. The only problem was the game went to four overtimes. The last three games especially have been very competitive in this series and this one will probably be no different. In order for Portland to keep it that way on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers are going to have to grind one out the way they did in Game 2. Terry Stotts can’t count on role players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Rodney Hood scoring close to 20 like they’ve been doing recently. The spread seems about right in this one, but I like Portland especially to cool off offensively, and can’t see Denver running away with the game which makes the stronger play going under 213.5.