Game 1 Preview: Raptors vs Sixers

Philadelphia is a decided underdog in their second-round series with the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors have consistently finished the National Basketball Association regular season among the league's elite in recent years, averaging 56 wins over the past four seasons and claiming the Atlantic Division crown in five of the past six years.

Kawhi Leonard leads the way for the Raptors with 27.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and three assists per game. Games 1 and 2 will be played in Toronto on Saturday and Monday before the series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.

With all due respect to Vucevic, who has developed into a really good player, Embiid is in a different class. "Just like any great player, you try to make everything as uncomfortable as possible, be as physical as they allow you".

But in Game 4 the three ball came back into Toronto's arsenal as a real weapon and from there it was just a matter of seeing a few go down and the ball movement that had somehow become a forgotten part of Toronto's game came back as well.

If anything, the Sixers do have the firepower in their starting lineup with center Joel Embiid, guard Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, J.J. Redick and Tobias Harris.

If there's one matchup to keep an eye on aside from Gasol vs. Embiid, it's Leonard guarding Ben Simmons. Dating to last season, Embiid has scored 20-plus points in five straight playoff games, the longest streak since Iverson did it a franchise best 22 straight times from 2001 to 2003.

Game 2 and 3 were actually all about Toronto's defensive improvements as they basically eliminated Nikola Vucevic from Orlando's offence and then made movement of any kind in the paint for any member of the Magic virtually impossible.

"I talked to Kobe once and I remember him saying make new headlines", Russell said. He is coming off a 27-point performance in Game 5 against the Magic, shooting 8-for-11 from the floor and a flawless 5-for-5 from the three-point line.

"The point of bringing this team together was to win a championship and we have put a roster together that can do that". "There are only three or four guys that can shoot threes and throw penetrating passes". Kyle Lowry has done it twice in the post-season. "I don't think we're sitting here satisfied". The 76ers won and covered the spread in the last four games of the series.

The prediction: Toronto in six. There aren't a lot of talking points to pull out of this game by itself, because the story of this game has been told previously in the series, a series the Raptors have thoroughly dominated aside from the narrow defeat in game one. Forward Pascal Siakam had a breakout season for Toronto, while the team improved their frontline by acquiring Marc Gasol in a February deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Sixers have lost 13 straight games at Scotiabank Arena since their last win there on November 10, 2012. The Raptors were 3-1 against the Sixers during the regular-season series, winning both games at home and one of two on the road.

The Sixers will be without their de facto sixth man for Game 1 of their second-round series against the Raptors. "A lot more to do", coach Brett Brown said.

But he's seen enough to know nothing is certain, so he was careful to not even say much about what he hoped would happen.

In a segment on Pardon the Interruption, Charles Barkley was reminded of how he previously suggested Embiid start swimming to help get into better shape. "Yeah, there's some stuff there for sure". They were a defensive juggernaut in subduing the Orlando Magic in five first-round games and don't want to change too much.

"I think D'Angelo knows how we feel about him", Marks said. "It's at least a two-man job, (Gasol) and Serge (Ibaka)".

"It's how can we adjust a little bit and see what they're trying to do?" he said.


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