I have few words for the Philadelphia 76ers’ Game 5 performance against the Toronto Raptors. Philly’s offense versus Toronto’s defense looked like a first-time chess player against a grandmaster. The Sixers’ defense was somehow even more pathetic, with players not even getting back after makes, let alone in transition. It was the third time in this series that the Sixers have come out completely flat, seemingly without any game plan whatsoever. The Raptors outclassed the Sixers in just about every aspect. (I turned the game off early in the 4th quarter.)
And the bookmakers in Vegas took notice. With their backs against the wall, facing elimination, the Sixers have been installed as 2-point underdogs on their home turf for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
FiveThirtyEight also favors the Raptors in Game 6, though with less enthusiasm than the bookies: their CARMELO prediction system has listed the Raptors as -0.5 favorites, with a 51% win probability. In other words, CARMELO is calling this a toss up. For Game 7 though, CARMELO is much more confident in a Toronto victory, placing them as 7-point favorites with a 75% win probability. And on the series as a whole, FiveThirtyEight now has the Raptors at 87% probability to make the Eastern Conference Finals, 53% to make the NBA Finals, and 29% to win the Finals (that’s the 2nd highest after the Golden State Warriors). The Sixers? 13%, 4% and 1%, respectively.
I’m a fan of Jacob Goldstein’s (The BBall Index) work. His model is even more confident in the Raptors than FiveThirtyEight’s:
Life comes at you fast. Sunday morning, the Sixers had an opportunity to take control over this series and send the Raptors into what could have been a total rebuild and franchise-altering summer. But the Sixers didn’t execute in Game 4, forgot everything they know about basketball in Game 5, and now it is Philly who is looking more and more like they’ve got a summer full of tough decisions ahead of them.
I haven’t lost all faith — I’m not giving the Sixers zero shot to win this series. Depending on what happens in Game 6, this series could come down to one final 48-minute stretch at which point nothing else matters but game day. But they need Joel Embiid to be the MVP he is capable of being when fully engaged and healthy enough — Joel’s performance is tied directly to the Sixers’ ceiling. Without the best Embiid has to offer, the Sixers are cooked. However, if Joel can be the player he was in Game 3, in Games 6 and 7, Philly still has a fighting chance. (It wouldn’t hurt if Ben Simmons could do something of value on offense.) The biggest hurdle for him right now is health — is Joel physically capable of dominating?
What is your prediction for the series conclusion?
This poll is closed
Raptors in 6
Raptors in 7
Sixers in 7