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Cinco de Mayo NBA Playoff Action: Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers

Updated: Sep 10, 2020


Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers -2

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

May 5, 2019, 12:30 PM PDT

The fan in us wants to see Toronto fare well in the NBA post-season for several reasons: 1) we feel for Kyle Lowry, as his playoff efforts in Toronto seem to have been cursed to date; 2) the LeBron James-less Cavaliers' failure to make the playoffs this year leaves the re-tooled Raptors in prime position to (finally) avoid being sent on vacation for the fourth year in a row by Cleveland's hands; and perhaps most importantly, 3) we bet on the Raptors OR Bucks to make the Finals. Despite these psychological motivations, the objective analyst in us warns against putting our money where our heart is.

For one, as of the time of this writing, sharps are down on the Sixers in a big way. According to data from The Action Network, 61% of spread wagers favor Philly, but a whopping 91% of dollars bet ATS. This matters, as sharp bettors have owned the playoffs in recent years, including a 32-20 ATS run during the current campaign.

With that said, of the 598 NBA playoff games in the BetLabsSports database for which data on betting flows is available, no game has ever closed with the backing of more more than 86% of spread dollars wagered. This is to say that the lopsided support being thrown Philly's way is likely to moderate, especially since perhaps as little as 10% of the ATS wagers this contest will ultimately elicit have been laid as of the time of this writing. So while this trend certainly bears watching, at present, the data emphatically favors the Sixers.

Separately, the Raptors' starting power forward, Pascal Siakam, is listed as doubtful for Sunday's proceedings. With a value rating of 4.14 points per 100 offensive and defensive possessions, Siakam was the fourth best player in the League at his position and 21st best player overall during the regular season, per ESPN's real plus-minus metric (RPM), which attempts to measure a player's unique impact, considering teammates, opponents as well as other factors.

In acknowledgement of the uncertainty related to Siakam's availability, the betting line adjusted immediately, repricing Toronto from 1.5 point road favorites to 2 point dogs. If Siakam can not go, we expect Serge Ibaka (-0.95 RPM) will get the start in his stead. There would be value with the Sixers -2 under such as scenario, per RPM, as this statistic implies Ibaka assuming Siakam's floor time makes the Toronto somewhere around six points worse.

From a different angle, per the graphic above, line movement of less than four points in NBA post-season action has, in fact, contained (nominal) information historically. Teams, like the 76ers, that have seen the betting spread move three to four points their direction have been modestly profitable bets since 2005, delivering a 4.5% return on investment.

Thus, in aggregate, the resolve of the betting cohort with the best information, a quantitative assessment of likely available personnel and information conveyed by betting markets all point to the home cover this afternoon--IF Siakam is indeed unable to go, that is. We are positioning accordingly.

Happy betting!!

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