The Eastern Conference already has one team ready and waiting in the next round, as the Milwaukee Bucks advanced past the Boston Celtics pretty handily. The other series will need a Game 7, thanks to Philadelphia’s bounce-back Game 6 win over Toronto.
Before making our Game 7 pick, we need to rewind to Game 5. Also played in Toronto, the Raptors absolutely dominated the Sixers to the tune of a 36-point victory. However, with a chance to eliminate Philadelphia in hostile territory, the Raptors could not finish them off. Instead, the Sixers seemed to step their games up with their backs against the wall. Jimmy Butler finished with 25 points for Philly, and Joel Embiid’s game was particularly impressive. Despite only posting 17 points (he did also have 12 rebounds for a double-double), Embiid finished the game as a +40, meaning that Philadelphia outscored Toronto by 40 points while he was on the floor. Considering the 76ers’ margin of victory was 11 points, that’s not too shabby.
Kawhi Leonard has been a key for the Raptors in this series. Leonard scored at least 33 points in each of the first four games of the series, but Philadelphia managed to hold him to 29 points in Game 6 (with much of that coming during garbage time). Even in Toronto’s big Game 5, Leonard finished with just 21 points.
Leonard and Embiid may just be the deciding factors for Game 7, which will move back north to Ontario, where the Raptors are (4-2) this postseason. The Raptors are heavily favored on the money line, and the spread is set at six points (as of this writing). While I might be a little iffy taking the Sixers straight-up in a road Game 7 situation, I feel like this game could end up being a close one. For that reason, I’m taking the Sixers +6. I had picked Philadelphia to win the series straight-up prior to the round starting, and if you’re as confident in them now as I was then, being able to get +220 to bet Philadelphia to win should have your mouth watering.
Drew has been covering sports professionally since 2007, covering sports of all kinds in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA. In addition to covering college sports, he also spent two seasons working with the NHL's Florida Panthers as part of their TV broadcast team, as well as reporting and anchoring for AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports affiliates, CBS Sports Network and ESPNU. Drew has also ...
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