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76ers heavy favorites to close out Bulls in Game 5

Sportsnaut
Apr 23, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) gestures to the referees at the end of the fourth quarter of game four of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid plans to play through the pain of a torn ligament in his right thumb on Monday when the Philadelphia 76ers bid to eliminate the visiting Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

But the injury news isn’t as promising for the Raptors, who will be without point guard Fred VanVleet (left hip flexor) in the must-win meeting in Philadelphia.

The 76ers have held steady at BetMGM as 7.5-point favorites Monday night and have been backed by 60 percent of the spread handle despite the total bets being nearly split. The line is 8.0 at DraftKings, where Philadelphia has drawn 45 percent of the spread bets but 63 percent of the handle.

Embiid sported a brace that covered his injured digit in the fourth-seeded 76ers’ 110-102 loss to the fifth-seeded Raptors on Saturday afternoon. His availability likely will remain in question headed into Monday’s game for Philadelphia, which holds a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

“I want to play,” Embiid said after making just 7 of 16 shots from the floor and finishing with 21 points on Saturday. “… I would imagine that I keep playing and probably do something after the season.”

The results of Embiid’s MRI exam on Sunday didn’t come as a surprise to 76ers coach Doc Rivers.

“It just confirmed what we thought,” Rivers said. “Nothing changes, treatment’s the same. There literally will be no change. It’s just, we thought it was and it was, so you just keep moving on.”

VanVleet sustained a strained left hip during the second quarter of Game 4, while NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes was hobbled a bit on Saturday after spraining his left ankle in the series opener.

Barnes is likely to handle the ball more frequently with VanVleet out. Rivers said the Raptors become “more switchable” for the 76ers’ defense without the threat of VanVleet’s 3-point shooting.

Pascal Siakam scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday for the Raptors, who are trying to become the first NBA team in history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit in the playoffs.

That task is a “heckuva challenge,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said, and “somebody’s gotta do it.”

The Raptors are banking on the idea they can do it behind Siakam, who made 10 of 19 shots from the floor and 13 of 15 from the foul line on Saturday.

“He’s always been a resilient player,” teammate Thaddeus Young said of Siakam, who made just 6 of 16 shots from the field in Toronto’s 104-101 overtime loss in Game 3 on Wednesday. “He’s always going to fight through adversity. He knows his game. He knows who he is as a player. He knows how to bounce back … from having not-so-good games.

“That’s exactly what he did. He just came out and did what Pascal does: play basketball and not care about what people are saying, or the last game. It’s about this game. It’s about moving forward.”

Philadelphia’s James Harden scored a team-high 22 points on Saturday, but he made just 5 of 17 shots from the floor.

Tyrese Maxey has seen his numbers take a tumble since erupting for 38 points in the series opener. He has scored 23, 19 and 11 points in the next three games, with a 4-for-12 shooting performance on Saturday.

With injury concerns on both sides, the game has the smallest Over/Under total of the three playoff games Monday night.

The market is 211.5 points at DraftKings, leading to 76 percent of the bets and 85 percent of the spread supporting the Over. The point total is only 209.5 at BetMGM, with the Over drawing 83 and 90 percent, respectively.

–Field Level Media