- Toronto is beating the spread by an average of 12.0 PPG this season when playing for the second straight day.
Here are Three at 3's top plays for Thursday.
Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers (-3.5)
7:00 pm ET
The 76ers sacrificed some depth when they traded for Jimmy Butler earlier this season, and it showed when Butler was sidelined for their Dec. 14 game against the Pacers, which they lost 113-101 at home (IND +3). Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and J.J. Redick were forced to collectively take nearly two-thirds of the Sixers' shots, resulting in Indiana holding them to 40.7% shooting from the field, far below their (current) season-long 47.2 FG percentage.
But Butler will be on the floor when the 76ers play in Indiana on Thursday, giving them the balance they'll need to efficiently attack the Pacers' excellent defense. Philadelphia's offense looked like the best possible version of itself in a 149-107 win over the Timberwolves on Tuesday, and coach Brett Brown will look to carry the team's energy from that game forward over the rest of the season. (Indiana has posted two straight big wins itself, 121-106 over the Knicks and 131-97 over the Suns, but is 0-6 against the spread this season when coming off of two consecutive 110-plus-point performances.) With Embiid owning Indiana on the inside (40 points, 21 rebounds in December), Butler and the rest of the Sixers should have plenty of quality scoring opportunities looks this time around.
Pick: 76ers +3.5
2. Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets (-2.5)
The Kings are underdogs here against an inferior Hornets team largely because they'll be playing cross-country with a 4:00 PT tipoff, and fair enough. But note that this is only the first leg of what will be a six-game road trip for Sacramento, meaning the young Kings have not yet accrued the fatigue that may hamper them in games to come.
Sacramento is 14-4 (and 14-4 against the spread) this season against teams with losing records, and the fact that the Hornets are 20-23 despite playing in the Eastern Conference reveals them to be a significantly weaker team than the 23-21 Kings. Plus, Sacramento is 10-3 (10-3 ATS) against the East this season, a record that includes road wins in Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Cleveland and Chicago. Less than a week removed from a 104-97 home win over the Hornets on Saturday (SAC -6), there's little reason to think the Kings can't win again.
Pick: Kings +2.5
3. Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors (-8)
After a particularly hard-fought loss in Boston on Wednesday, Toronto is expected to rest both Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry at home tonight. As evidenced by the fact that they're still nearly double-digit favorites, they can certainly afford to do so against the 11-34 Phoenix Suns, who will make the trek to Toronto fresh off of a 131-97 loss in Indiana on Tuesday (IND -10.5). The Raptors are a remarkable 7-1 (and 7-1 against the spread) on the second leg of back-to-backs this season, beating the spread by a league-best 12.0 PPG in those games. Notably, they've played most of those games without Leonard, whose health the team has treated rather cautiously. Expect his and Lowry's supporting cast, one of the best in the NBA, to take care of business against the Suns.
Pick: Raptors -8
Overall Record: 103-86-4