The Raptors get their second crack at the 76ers on Tuesday night, but this time Joel Embiid is suiting up for Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Steph Curry and the Warriors put their three-game winning streak on the line against the visiting Nuggets.
SI Editor Matt Ehalt is the guest picker this week. Let’s get into the games.
Season record: 54-51-1
Guest pickers: 35-65
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: 76ers -6.5 (-110) | Raptors +6.5 (-110)
Moneyline: 76ers (-275) | Raptors (+225)
Total: Under 213.5 (-110) | Over 213.5 (-110)
Injuries: 76ers C Andre Drummond—Out; Raptors F Pascal Siakam—Questionable; Raptors G Gary Trent Jr.—Questionable; Raptors F Scottie Barnes—Out; Raptors G Fred VanVleet—Out; Raptors F OG Anunoby—Out;
The 76ers lost to the Raptors, 115-109, earlier this season in Philadelphia without Embiid. Philadelphia is 14-8 with Embiid this season and 3-8 without its All-Star center, who is averaging 28.2 points in December.
Philadelphia is a much better team on the road (11-8) than at home (6-8), and is fresh off a 21-point win over the Wizards in Washington on Sunday.
The 76ers are just inside the top six teams in the East after scoring a key win over the seventh-place Wizards. The 76ers' offense ranks No. 24 (105.7 PPG), though it compensates with the eighth-ranked scoring defense (106 PPG).
Toronto has only played twice in the last 10 days due to three postponed games. The results of those games are difficult to draw many conclusions from.
The first was a 19-point win over the Warriors without Steph Curry, Draymond Green or Jordan Poole, and the second was a 45-point loss to the Cavaliers with hardly any recognizable starters. The Raptors are still missing most of their usual starting five, but they could welcome back Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr., both of whom recently cleared the league’s health and safety protocols.
The Raptors are barely clinging on to a play-in game spot, in large part thanks to the team’s No. 9 scoring defense (106.5 PPG). Offense has been the issue for Toronto—it ranks 21st in scoring (106.1 PPG) and its second- and third-leading scorers (OG Anunoby and Siakam) have missed more than 10 games each.
Kyle Wood's Bets:
Spread pick: 76ers -6.5
This pick is based on availability, overall talent and recent performance, so the 76ers are an easy choice. Even if Toronto returns some of its starters from COVID-19-induced absences, Embiid is the best player on the court. Toronto’s roster and schedule has been upended and that showed itself in the walloping it took against Cleveland. Philadelphia has a lot going for it as it looks to even the season series.
Over/Under pick: Over 213.5
Despite their low-ranked offense, Raptors games go over at the third-highest rate in the league (56.7%). 76ers games stay under 62.5% of the time. Philadelphia has had some trouble scoring as of late, beyond its 117-point showing last time out, but this number is just too low. Toronto nearly scored triple digits with its skeleton squad Sunday night. That’s really all it needs to do to take care of business.
Prop: Seth Curry Over 3.5 Assists
Seth Curry has excelled as a playmaker in December, averaging 5.1 assists per game. Compare that to 1.2 dimes per game in October and 2.9 in November, and the sharpshooter has shown a marked improvement in his ball distribution abilities. Curry has gone over this figure in five straight games, including a season-high nine assists against Washington when his shot didn't fall. I’ll take the over with plus odds (+116).
Guest Picker Matt Ehalt’s Bets:
Spread pick: Raptors +6.5
I was ready to back the 76ers, but a deeper dive into their trends reveals Philadelphia is just 2-6 ATS as a home favorite. Toronto is actually 8-6 ATS as a road underdog. I'm going to follow the numbers here, even though Embiid being available to play and the Raptors' inconsistent schedule gives me pause. But let's back the Six.
Over/Under pick: Under 213.5
Philadelphia games hit the over in just 4 of 14 home games, while Toronto's have hit the over in road games in 9 of 14 road games. Add in that Philadelphia's games have the third-worst rate of hitting the over, and I'm going to take the under.
Prop: Joel Embiid over 27.5 points
Embiid is the best player on the court and facing a team that has dealt with an uncertain schedule. As Kyle noted, Embiid is averaging more than this number in December. Let's bet he keeps it up Tuesday night in Toronto.
Time: 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Spread: Nuggets +7.5 (-110) | Warriors -7.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Nuggets (+260) | Warriors (-333)
Total: Under 217.5 (-110) | Over 217.5 (-110)
Injuries: Nuggets F Aaron Gordon—Day-to-day; Nuggets G Monte Morris—Day-to-day; Nuggets C Bol Bol—Day-to-day; Warriors F Draymond Green—Out; Warriors G Jordan Poole—Out; Warriors F Andre Iguodola—Day-to-day
Denver is not at the peak of its powers heading into its first matchup with the first-place Warriors. Aaron Gordon and Monte Morris, the Nuggets’ two healthiest players up to this point, are questionable. With injuries affecting Denver, it’s reigning MVP Nikola Jokic who has stepped up. His rebounding numbers have shot up to 13.8 per game, second in the NBA, and he’s put together back-to-back 20-20 games.
Jokic’s heroics and complementary play from Gordon, Morris and Will Barton Jr. have helped keep the Nuggets alive. Denver is a below average offense (106.3 PPG) and a slightly above average defense (106.6 PPG). The Nuggets haven’t won or lost more than two games in a row since November, hovering right around .500.
Golden State’s sole loss in the last two weeks came on the road without Steph Curry, Green or Poole. The Warriors will be without Green and Poole on Tuesday, but Curry is at the peak of his powers. He’s tallied 30-plus points in his last four games—all wins—and is second in the league in scoring (27.9 PPG). Curry will have Andrew Wiggins at his side, who last played Dec. 17 and is second on the team in scoring (18.7 PPG).
The Warriors’ return to the top of the league has come with great play on both sides of the ball. Though the offense has more notoriety with Curry’s three-point fireworks, it’s the defense that anchors the team. Golden State boasts the No. 1 scoring defense (101.2 PPG) in addition to having the fourth-ranked offense (111.6 PPG).
Kyle Wood's Bets:
Spread pick: Warriors -7.5
If the past two seasons have shown anything, it’s that Curry alone can be enough. He’s at his peak when flanked by Klay Thompson and running in sync with Green, but he can beat teams with his own greatness and ability to involve his teammates when teams throw multiple defenders at him. Golden State is 16-2 at home and I like it to cover against a potentially short-handed Nuggets team that has one of the worst ATS records (13-19). The Warriors are 21-10-2 ATS, the second-best mark in the league.
Over/Under pick: Over 217.5
Golden State games surprisingly go over at the lowest rate. Denver games, however, do so 53.1% of the time. This number is set low enough to rely on the Warriors to push it over the top with a 110-115-point showing. The Nuggets aren’t a stellar offense, but they’re also rarely held under 100 points. That’s all they should need in this one.
Prop: Nikola Jokic Rebounds Plus Assists Over 21.5
Jokic is prone to a sub-20 scoring night here and there, so I’m betting on his rebounding and passing prowess to shine through. Jokic went over this figure on rebounds alone in his last game and has gone over on rebounds plus assists in six of his past 10 games. Golden State is weak down low without Green and Jokic will feast on the boards.
Guest Picker Matt Ehalt’s Bets:
Spread pick: Warriors -7.5
Betting against the Warriors at home is not a sound strategy. I'm taking the best team in the NBA against a potentially short-handed team. Sometimes, you have to keep it simple and go with the better team the MVP frontrunner.
Over/Under pick: Under 217.5
Golden State's home games usually hit the under, and there are enough players missing in this game that we'll back that trend. Denver's road games are 11-7 in hitting the over, but Golden State's defensive prowess can keep this from hitting the over.
Prop: Nikola Jokic under 28.5 points
The Warriors' defense might be able to relatively put the clamp on Jokic, and 28 points is nothing to sneeze at. I'm betting a strong defensive effort will keep Jokic from appearing 30, along with the possibility this turns into a blowout.
DFS Value Plays
(Prices based on 7 p.m. main slate)
PG Kemba Walker, Knicks (FD: $7,600 | DK: $6,900)
PG/SG Seth Curry, 76ers (FD: $6,500 | $6,500)
SF/SG Malik Beasley, Timberwolves (FD: $6,400 | $5,400)
PF/SF Tobias Harris, 76ers (FD: $7,200 | $9,000)
C/PF Chris Bouhcer, Raptors (FD: $5,500 | $6,200)