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Joel Embiid has loooooong arms. Right, Dejounte Murray? (Photo/Matt Slocum)
Joel Embiid has loooooong arms. Right, Dejounte Murray? (Photo/Matt Slocum)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Saturday: Greg Franks picks Sixers vs Heat as Jimmy Butler returns to Philly, and Raptors vs Hawks

Both games are at 7:30 pm ET.

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

0-2 Friday night, 31-25-1 overall

Heat (+4.5) @ Sixers (213.5)

Pick: Sixers -4.5

How can we not take the Sixers in the Jimmy Butler return game? Philadelphia looks to have righted the ship after some bad losses last week against Orlando and Oklahoma City. The Sixers come into Saturday’s game on a three-game winning streak and got a balanced attack on Friday night against San Antonio with six scorers in double figures. Ben Simmons had a triple-double in the victory and with that coming off of Wednesday’s game in which he made his first three-pointer, there’s less noise surrounding Simmons and he’s beginning to relax. Miami also played Friday night in Chicago and now travels to the city of brotherly love. We’d always prefer to play the home team in a spot with both teams having played the night before. Considering the home team in this one was also home on Friday and the road team was also on the road last night, that decision gets even easier. Look for Butler to get his and win more battles against the Sixers’ wing players than they do against him, but the top-end talent of the Sixers is better than Miami’s and that should be enough to cover this short number.

Raptors -7 @ Hawks (224)

Pick: Raptors -7

You’re not supposed to hold grudges in this business but seriously, what was that from the Hawks last night?! Sure enough, Atlanta catching 6.5 against lowly Detroit was too good to be true and the Hawks were never in the game and we were on the wrong side the whole way. However, in all seriousness, this isn’t holding a grudge against the Hawks. Atlanta is a young team that just got its behinds kicked and now returns home to play the defending NBA champions on the second leg of a back-to-back. Toronto hasn’t been a team to play down to inferior competition, which was again on display this week as it won and covered games against Charlotte and Orlando. The Raptors seem to take joy in reminding these kinds of inferior teams of just how wide the game is between them. After taking a beating last night and playing its third game in four days, don’t expect much resistance from the Hawks on Saturday.

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