After two games, the Raptors and 76ers are tied at one game a piece as the series shifts to Philadelphia. On paper, it was clear that this would be a tightly contested match up. Both teams have stacked starting lineups and are excellent defensively. What does each team need to do to win the series?
The Raptors game out swinging in game one and won decisively by 13. They outscored Philly in all four quarters of the game, and at no point in the game did it feel like Toronto was at risk of losing. Kawhi Leonard was dominant with 45 points on 16-23 from the field, while Pascal Siakam posted 29 points on a ridiculous 12-15 from the field. While the Raptors’ next highest scorer was Kyle Lowry with 9 points, the other starters shined on the defensive end. Joel Embiid struggled mightily when guarded by Marc Gasol. Embiid finished with 16 points on just 5-18 from the floor. Save for Ben Simmons and JJ Redick, the other 76ers shot poorly. Tobias Harris was just 6-17, and Jimmy Butler was 4-12.
While Kawhi Leonard came ready to play, the rest of the Raptors squad was rather abysmal, save for Kyle Lowry late in the game. Despite Leonard’s 35 points, Toronto went down by 13 at the half and recovered slightly in the second half. Siakam shot just 9-25, Gasol had just 5 points, and Green was 1-8 from the field.
Comparatively, the 76ers really weren’t much better, hence the reason it was only a five-point game. Philly shot just 39.5% from the field and 28.6% from deep, which is only marginally better than Toronto’s 36.7% from the floor and 27.0% from three. Joel Embiid made the clutch bucket to seal the game for the 76ers, however, he wasn’t very effective for the majority of the game. In 32 minutes he recorded just 12 points and 6 rebounds on 2-7 shooting. Ben Simmons was solid defensively, however in 44 minutes of play he had just 6 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Harris was 3-11 from the field and Redick wasn’t much better at 4-10. Even Jimmy Butler, who led the way with 30 points, shot just 9-22 on the night.
What Does Toronto Need to Win?
The fact that Toronto lost by just five when essentially nobody but Kawhi Leonard showed up is a decent sign for the Raptors. Granted, the 76ers probably won’t shoot as poorly as they did in the first two games. If Philly continues to shoot the ball poorly, however, the Raptors just need one other player to show up
alongside Kawhi. Though Siakam had 21 points last game, it took him 25 shots to do it which is not ideal. Lowry was decent in game two, however, he didn’t bring a lot to the table until he made two clutch threes late in the fourth quarter.
Assuming the 76ers pick up their shooting, the keys will be to continue to hold down Embiid and Simmons. Thus far, Embiid is averaging just 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds on 28.0% from the field. Marc Gasol has played excellent defense on him, and Leonard has limited Simmons’ passing and scoring opportunities tremendously.
What Does Philly Need to Win?
While Joel Embiid’s lackluster performance is the talk of the series, the rest of the 76ers need to get things going as well. Although Ben Simmons has been efficient, he’s taking just 7 shots per game. Furthermore, his averages of 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists leave a lot to be desired from the All-Star guard. Kawhi Leonard is a tough defensive matchup, but Simmons needs to figure out how to get to the basket more frequently and continue to get solid looks for his team.
Most of all, the 76ers need Harris to figure out his shooting woes, and for Redick and Butler to improve their efficiency. Harris’ stats look decent with 10.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game, however, he’s shooting just 32.1% across the first two games. Redick is doing a bit better with 14.0 points on 43.5% from the floor, however his 35.0% from deep leaves room for improvement from the veteran sniper. Jimmy Butler has arguably been the team’s best player, however, he’s been awfully inefficient. His 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game are coming with a 38.2 FG% and 30.8 3P%. While Jimmy Buckets isn’t necessarily renowned for his shooting, if he’s going to take the most shots on the team, he needs to make a few more of them per game.
Stats courtesy of ESPN
Featured image courtesy of Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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