Raptors vs 76ers Preview & Free Pick [December 29th 2020]

Toronto (0-2) at Philadelphia (2-1)
When: Tuesday, December 29th, 2020
Where: Wells Fargo Center,
Philadelphia, PA
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: NBA Full Court
Opening Odds: Philadelphia -1.5/219.5

Two teams with NBA title aspirations will collide in an early-season matchup in Philadelphia as the 76ers host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. Rumors are still swirling that the Sixers could land Houston All-Star guard James Harden and send away Ben Simmons, but for now, Philadelphia is playing with what they believe is still a championship-caliber team. The 76ers will look to rebound from a disappointing loss in which they allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to shoot 52.7 percent from the field in a 118-94 loss on the road. Shortly before the game, All-Star center Joel Embiid was scratched with back tightness and the Sixers never responded. Philadelphia went 11-10 last season without Embiid, but are now 0-1 after winning their first two games by double-digits with him in the lineup. Embiid is expected to play versus the Raptors on Tuesday. The Sixers committed 21 turnovers, which was a huge issue last season and ultimately caused Brett Brown to be relieved of his duties and Doc Rivers hired as head coach. Since losing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in free agency, the Raptors have dropped their first two games to the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors latest game was a 119-114 setback to the Spurs, as Fred VanVleet scored 27 points and Chris Boucher contributed 22 as six players reached double figures. The Raptors haven’t been two games under .500 in seven years, but have had some recent success against the 76ers.

Toronto has won six of its past 10 regular-season games as the “visitor” in this series and the teams have split those 10 against the spread. The most recent meeting was on Aug. 12 in the Orlando bubble when Toronto won 125-121 as the road team. Embiid only played the first half and Simmons was out injured. The Raptors did lose their one trip to Philadelphia last season, 110-104 as Simmons had 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Philly was a remarkable 31-4 as the ‘home team’ last season – most of that at the Wells Fargo Center. Toronto has won the season series in seven straight years.

Toronto’s defense has not been sharp in the early-going, surrendering 116 points per game. The Spurs recorded 119 in Saturday’s five-point home victory over the Raptors. Toronto was up 114-110 with less than 1:30 remaining, but former Raptor DeMar DeRozan had 27 points, including a crucial three-pointer later. Chris Boucher added 10 rebounds and seven blocks off the bench and joined Jermaine O’Neal (February 2009) as the only players in franchise history with at least 20 points and seven blocks in a game. However, Norman Powell was scoreless in 19 minutes, missing all five shots. Klyle Lowry returns to Philadelphia where he starred collegiately at Villanova. Toronto is 8-3-1 ATS in its past 12 road games.

The 76ers were horrible on the road last season and it carried over to this season after the blowout loss in Cleveland on Sunday. To be fair, Philly was on the second of a back-to-back and Embiid got the night off with back tightness. He’s averaging 28.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in the first two wins. Simmons had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the offense. New Sixers guard Danny Green was acquired this summer from Oklahoma City but is averaging just 4.0 points per game. If the 76ers hold teams below 90 points, they have won 19 straight and are 13-6 ATS in their past 19 at home. Philly will be at Orlando on New Year’s Eve.

Right now, the Raptors are playing like crap, especially on defense and the Sixers were one of the best home teams in the league last season. Embiid is listed as probable and that alone gives the Sixers the edge in this one.

Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.

Pick: 76ers -2.5