Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick keeps the ball from Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during Game 5 of the NBA basketball second-round playoff series on May 7, 2019.
Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick keeps the ball from Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during Game 5 of the NBA basketball second-round playoff series on May 7, 2019.|Nathan Denette | The Canadian Press via Associated Press

NBA Playoff Thursday:  This could be the end for the 76ers & Blazers – Frank’s picks for Raptors vs Sixers and Nuggets vs Trail Blazers

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

Raptors (-2) @ Sixers (213)
Pick: Sixers First Quarter PK
I have to think the Sixers are dying to get back on the court tonight after how poorly they played for the last three quarters on Tuesday in Game 5. Despite that putrid performance in Toronto, it’s important to remember when handicapping that no team is as good or as bad as it looks on any one night. Philadelphia has looked like the better team for chunks of this series and would still have the lead in the series if it closed out Game 4 on its home floor. Instead, the Sixers’ backs are against the wall and Brett Brown might be coaching his final game with the team. We played the Sixers in the first quarter in Game 3 expecting Wells Fargo Center to be popping right from the opening tip-off and sure enough Philly won the opening 12 minutes and never looked back coasting to its most convincing win of the series. Between Joel Embiid’s sickness, and continued inconsistencies from Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, I don’t feel comfortable taking the Sixers side for the full game tonight. However, I do think Brown will have them ready to go in this elimination game and they’ll again feed off the crowd early on. This game probably comes down to the final seconds, so rather than sweat it out, take the Sixers to outscore the Raptors in the first quarter and you’ll have a winner in your back pocket early on.

Nuggets (+4) @ Trail Blazers (215.5)
Pick: Trail Blazers First Quarter -2
Pick: Trail Blazers -4
The Trail Blazers are in a very similar spot to the Sixers tonight. Both teams got crushed last time out, face elimination tonight, and are going back home to venues that have treated them well all season long. We’re expecting both teams to respond well out of the gate on Thursday so we have no problem laying the deuce to back Portland in the first quarter tonight. The Trail Blazers also covered numbers at home better than almost the entire Western Conference in the regular season. However, they’ve hit a bit of a wall in the postseason having not covered their last three home playoff games. Sometimes, that’s a sign to abandon ship from a trend that proved profitable, but other times it’s a buy low opportunity in the future and we think it’s the latter. Terry Stotts’ team is still covering at a 58% clip on its home floor and quite honestly, I don’t trust Denver to cover three straight road playoff games. Despite going 3-2 ATS on the road so far in the postseason, the Nuggets are still just 20-26 ATS on the road for the regular season and playoffs combined. Only three teams have covered at a worse rate away from home than Denver this season. The two games the Nuggets have not covered on the road so far in the playoffs were double-digit losses and the Spurs crushed Denver in an elimination game in San Antonio in the first round. Portland gets out early tonight and never looks back on the way to its most comfortable win of the series.

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