NBA Playoffs: Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors Preview
The Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers are set to lock horns in the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. It’s an intriguing matchup to say the least, given both teams’ loaded rosters and dominance in the previous round.
Will the Raptors make a return to the Eastern Conference finals? Or will the Sixers take care of business? Read on for a breakdown of this exciting 76ers vs. Raptors series by Nitrogen Sports Blog.
No extra rest
The 76ers and the Raptors meet in the 2019 NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2001, but they won’t have the benefit of having extra rest over the other. Both sides lost their Game 1 matchups to the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic respectively, but bounced back to win the next four games in the series.
Will Toronto Raptors live up to favorites tag?
Kawhi Leonard’s Raptors are the favorites to win the series. Not only were they the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and have home-court advantage, but they have also won the regular-season series against Philadelphia, 3-1. In addition to those, the Sixers have not won a game north of the border since November of 2012. On paper, most items checks out for Toronto winning the series.
Toronto didn’t just beat Philadelphia straight up in those four 76ers vs. Raptors series. They also covered the spread in three of those contests, indicating how dominant Toronto has been when matched up against the Sixers.
Leonard and Kyle Lowry are among the players to watch for Toronto. Leonard is averaging 27.8 points per game thus far in the playoffs, while Lowry is putting up 11.4 points and dishing out 8.6 assists per contest.
But the wild card is center Marc Gasol, who joined the Raptors just before the trade deadline.
The Spaniard played a key role in shutting Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic in the first round, and he didn’t play any of the regular season games against the Sixers either. Averaging 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds through 53.6 percent field goal shooting in the postseason, Gasol could be a factor that sees Toronto advance to the conference finals.
Don’t sleep on the Sixers
The Sixers should not be counted out at all though. After all, they boast a scary collection of talent on their starting unit. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanović are quite a combination, which the Nets certainly found out when the Sixers blew them out of the water in the first round.
Embiid was not at his best, but still averaged an impressive 24.8 points and 13.5 rebounds in the four playoff games he has played so far. Simmons, Butler and Harris, meanwhile, are averaging double figures in points.
The Sixers underwhelmed last season in the playoffs, but are considerably stronger this year, no longer being able to call themselves a young team with potential. They could take that one step closer to becoming a legitimate East powerhouse with a series win over Toronto.
76ers vs. Raptors conclusion
The Sixers and the Raptors are both great and talented enough to win the Larry O’Brien trophy this season, but only one between them will survive into the next round.
They matched up well against each other, but the Raptors are the favorites in this series for no reason. That said, the Sixers just showed how capable they are of dominating with a superb overall performance in the first round, Anything can happen in the playoffs, and this 76ers vs.
Raptors series should be decided in five or six games or similar to how the Celtics vs Bucks series will unfold.
Joel Embiid has a seemingly bottomless confidence in his Sixers. But Philadelphia is going to need more than that in order to take down Toronto, which is lead by Leonard, whose reticence is the perfect counterweight for Embiid’s effervescence.
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