What they’re saying: Sixers keys to beating the Raptors are pretty easy


The Sixers and Raptors are all set for a gathering that will determine the way forward for loads of massive names on either side. Philadelphia has to keep watch over Brett Brown’s teaching, the happiness of Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler, and what they could must push their workforce to the subsequent stage in 2018-19. Toronto’s considerations will begin and finish with Kawhi Leonard, who could bolt for greener pastures if the Raptors’ playoff demons resurface this season.

However for now, the main focus in each cities has been directed on the basketball itself, which is a refreshing factor in an period the place individuals care about transactions as a lot (if no more) than the video games. So it is time to try what they’re saying about this matchup on either side of the usCanadian border.

If you have not taken a take a look at a few of our preview content material but, get your butt in gear and make it occur. When you end up with that, some exterior studying to sift via earlier than tomorrow’s tip.

The Sixers’ keys to beating the Raptors 

Derek Bodner | The Athletic

You will discover this surprising, however loads of the individuals masking the workforce on daily basis have come to the identical conclusions about the important thing matchups on this collection. Bodner keyed in on Ben Simmons vs. Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid vs. Marc Gasol, similar to yours really, although clearly no two writers get there the identical.

So let’s concentrate on Bodner’s ideas on small ball and the backup heart drawback, which I too consider is an possibility the Sixers have to show to towards Toronto.

This might be a neater dialog to have if Jonah Bolden performed higher on the heart spot within the first-round collection, however within the uncommon instances Sixers coach Brett Brown known as upon him to anchor their protection in non-garbage time minutes, Bolden regarded misplaced and not sure of his defensive tasks, which led Brown to abort the experiment and return to Marjanovic, Greg Monroe and even go small at heart.

That final possibility could be the most intriguing one for the Sixers on this collection, particularly when Ibaka is on the court docket. The Raptors, for all their strengths, ranked simply 22nd within the league on the offensive glass. Placing Mike Scott at heart, if he’s accessible, would possibly be capable to pull Ibaka away from the rim, whereas not compromising the Sixers’ rebounding all that a lot. In fact, the Raptors could put Ibaka on Simmons if that matchup is offered to them, and Simmons should discover a option to forestall Ibaka from sagging off of him, presumably via screens and rolls to the basket off the ball. [The Athletic]

That Scott portion of this equation is an issue, in fact. If the Sixers haven’t got him on this collection, their lineup flexibility takes a critical hit.

Kawhi Leonard is tailormade to cease Ben Simmons

Sarah Todd | Philly.com

Seems, while you flip the ball over 24 instances in three video games performed towards a selected opponent, it’ll be a serious speaking level heading into the collection.

Although Leonard just isn’t the only real motive that Simmons coughs up miscues towards the Toronto squad, he impacts Simmons’ recreation in some ways. Due to his lateral quickness and basic defensive intelligence, Leonard is ready to cheat off Simmons so as to be a extra available assist defend off the ball, whereas nonetheless being a menace when Simmons drives.

Moreover, when the Sixers are capable of power a swap and get Leonard onto one other man, what that does is put Leonard in the way in which of certainly one of Simmons’ offensive choices. Leonard is ready to guard any participant on the court docket, so even when he’s not in Simmons’ face, he’s nonetheless chopping off a passing possibility or denying an entry go elsewhere. [Philly.com]

That Kawhi man is absolutely good, because it seems.

Joel Embiid is the important thing participant within the collection

Sean Deveney | Sporting Information

On the one hand, no duh, Embiid is the franchise participant. However with loads of the pre-series chatter specializing in Simmons and Leonard, it is necessary to do not forget that nobody drives Philly as a lot as Embiid.

There are such a lot of causes that this collection will revolve round Sixers heart Joel Embiid, starting along with his well being. Embiid has not been 100 p.c, as he has struggled via a knee damage in latest weeks. He missed the whole thing of Recreation Three of the first-round collection towards the Nets. However there have been instances he regarded dominant, similar to Recreation 4: 31 factors, 12-for-22 capturing, 16 rebounds, seven assists and 6 blocks. It was a masterpiece.

The remainder will assist Embiid, however we nonetheless cannot ensure whether or not he’s 100 p.c from evening to nighttime, and that might be a difficulty as a result of the Raptors have two guys who’ve matched up fairly nicely towards Embiid this season. Serge Ibaka just isn’t the participant he as soon as was, and isn’t practically as sturdy as Embiid, however he nonetheless has the savvy to get Embiid out of his consolation zones. Throughout the season, Ibaka confronted Embiid on 35.7 possessions per recreation in three video games and held him to 42.Four p.c capturing. [Sporting News]

These Ibaka numbers are necessary and can maybe get glossed over a bit with Gasol taking on the beginning job for Toronto. However Embiid will not discover any daylight if he manages to get Gasol in foul bother, which isn’t the way it normally goes for the large fella.

Raptors respectful of the problem forward of them

Ryan Wolstat | Toronto Solar

It is quite a bit simpler to indicate respect for an opponent while you’ve dealt with them simply for years, which is the case on the Toronto aspect of the equation. How can dangerous blood develop in case you’ve overwhelmed a workforce comfortably and by no means performed them within the playoffs?

That mentioned, the Raptors know the common season stuff goes out the window shortly, and so they’re placing within the prep time to cope with Philly.

“Proper off the bat, with Embiid inside, they’re massive throughout. They’ve acquired the most important centre within the league and possibly the most important level guard within the league in Simmons,” Nurse mentioned.

“So it presents some matchup points due to that. I feel once more we’ve acquired our fingers full. It’s a great factor we’ve acquired two massive defensive centres (in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who have been each masterful in shutting down Orlando all-star Nikola Vucevic).”

Gasol mentioned he would instantly begin watching movie on Embiid, who he hasn’t confronted all that always through the years as a result of he performed within the different convention as a long-time member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gasol added he’d be wanting carefully at how the Sixers attempt to get the ball to Embiid (he’s a monster within the inside, however has struggled from three-point vary for months now). [Sun]

We’ll see how a lot respect exists on the finish of this collection. My guess is lower than earlier than.

Sixers cannot get by on expertise alone towards Toronto 

Jeff Zillgitt | USA Right now

The Sixers could have assembled among the best beginning fives within the league, however they’re up towards one of many few groups within the league who has a lineup that’s both pretty much as good or higher, and so they have much more reps collectively as a unit.

The beginning 5 of Simmons, Redick, Butler, Harris and Embiid have been implausible on the court docket collectively towards the Nets, scoring 131.5 factors and permitting 81.7 factors per 100 possessions. That’s an incredible signal contemplating they performed simply 10 video games collectively throughout the common season.

Simmons won’t have a soar shot, however his skill to push the ball and drive to the basket opens alternatives for himself and teammates. Butler’s skill to seek out his spots with Philadelphia is underrated, and Harris is an environment friendly scorer.

Philadelphia’s high-powered offense may have a way more troublesome time scoring towards Toronto’s stingy protection, and it must hit 3-pointers at a greater proportion than it did towards Brooklyn.

Defensively, Butler, who cannot get ejected like he did in Recreation 4, will take the job of guarding Kawhi Leonard a majority of the time, and that could be a matchup value watching. Toronto’s bench additionally has the sting on Philadelphia. Will the Raptors simply put on down the Sixers? That can be a part of Toronto’s recreation plan. [USA Today]

One wrinkle to observe on this collection — Brett Brown typically performed all 5 of his starters in the beginning of second and fourth quarters towards Brooklyn, which isn’t what number of coaches are inclined to rotate their workforce. It might screw with Nick Nurse’s rotations if the Sixers go to that once more towards Toronto.

No time to brag for the Raptors

Doug Smith | Toronto Star

Philadelphia’s opponent to the north has an extended observe report than the Sixers, however that does not imply anybody in Toronto goes to take the Sixers flippantly. They’ve skilled loads of playoff heartbreak through the years, and so they’re conscious that high-end expertise can win out when all is alleged and performed.

The Sixers, who possess as gifted a beginning 5 as there may be within the NBA, are positively not the Magic, unproven and with no true star. Philadelphia has good capturing, a dominant centre and playoff expertise, all main components in a seven-game collection.

Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid could have solely been collectively for a half season however there’s a ton of expertise there that the Raptors will now must cope with.

Philadelphia solely wanted 5 video games to get previous the Brooklyn Nets in a collection that turned out way more one-sided than many thought it might. [Toronto Star]

One factor I am having fun with concerning the Sixers enjoying a workforce from Canada is consuming Canadian media, the place I can examine “centre” Joel Embiid. I imply this earnestly — certainly one of my prized possessions rising up was the British copy of the ultimate Harry Potter that I snagged as a result of I used to be touring overseas when it launched, and you are not not going to learn it.

Anyway, I digress.

Eight components that can determine Sixers vs. Raptors

William Lou | Yahoo Canada

A number of great things in right here on the keys to the collection, however let’s hone in on the defensive aspect of the ball. 

One of many causes the Sixers hardly ever assistance is as a result of they’re adamant about defending the three-point line. They completed second in three-point makes an attempt allowed (they permit virtually half as many nook threes because the Raptors), and whereas percentages could be topic to variance, additionally they restricted groups to a fourth-best 34.Four p.c from past the arc. 

That is the place Gasol and Leonard’s work from the elbows could be a consider breaking them. Philadelphia was additionally within the backside third in subject objective makes an attempt allowed from the mid-range, and if Gasol, Leonard and Ibaka present a willingness to take what the defence provides them, the Sixers might be compelled into tinkering with their schemes.

Contemplating the rules of their defence, it shouldn’t come as a shock that regardless of their size, the Sixers compelled the fewest turnovers within the league. Whenever you’re probably not trying to assist and poke at balls, you’re extra centered on being disciplined positionally and contesting pictures when the time comes. This does really feel like a little bit of a missed alternative for them. [Yahoo Canada]

This has been an ongoing debate round Philadelphia all yr, and it’ll proceed to be a speaking level throughout this matchup with Toronto. Towards Brooklyn, it wasn’t as massive of a deal as a result of the Sixers have been capable of reduce off the pinnacle of the snake by placing Ben Simmons on D’Angelo Russell. They won’t have that very same luxurious towards the Raptors, who put a number of creators on the ground at a time.

Keep tuned right here.

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