Game 2: 76ers look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead against the shorthanded Raptors
The Philadelphia 76ers made a statement in Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors with a dominating 20-point victory, 131-111. Tonight, the Sixers look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series against the shorthanded Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center.
I don’t want to hear shit about today being NaTiOnAl RaPtOr DaY either so save it.
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Yesterday, the Toronto Raptors listed Scottie Barnes (left ankle), Gary Trent Jr. (non-COVID illness), and Thaddeus Young (left thumb) as doubtful for Game 2. Barnes has officially been ruled out of tonight’s game while the other two remain doubtful.
Barnes averaged 35.4 minutes per game for the Raptors this season, with Trent averaging 35 minutes, and Young just over 18 minutes per game. Losing all three players will be a huge blow for the Raptors, who are in desperate need of an “adjustment” game to keep themselves in this first-round series.
Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby will hold the majority of the responsibility for Toronto, and we will likely see more of the Raptors bench, in Armoni Brooks and Yuta Watanabe.
Regardless, this Raptors team lacks the size to really bang with the 76ers in the paint. Now without Trent, they lack the outside shooting that has kept them in games against the Sixers. Considering the fact that Barnes was just two assists shy of a triple-double in his first career playoff game, and it’s getting harder to believe that the Raptors will be able to keep up with a healthy Sixers team.
Combating Nick Nurse Adjustments
It will be interesting to see if Nick Nurse opts to double and triple-team Joel Embiid again tonight, or switch it up and focus on other players like James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris. Harris and Maxey torched the Raptors in game one while Embiid ate up most of the attention and took care of the glass.
Honestly, the way I see it, the Raptors just need to pick which way they want to be killed.
James Harden has unlocked the 76ers offense and he continues to prove that he’s an elite facilitator. Harden put up 22 points, five rebounds, and 14 assists on Saturday night, which was good for assisting on 45.2% of his teammates’ made shots.
If Harden continues to facilitate while Maxey and Harris draw attention, then Embiid will be able to dominate this game. If the Raptors decide to continue to focus their defensive efforts on Embiid, then Maxey and Harris should be able to repeat their big game one performances again tonight.
The Raptors are dead either way.
Joel Embiid’s Defensive Dominance
Defensively, Joel Embiid should be able to focus more on Pascal Siakam with Barnes and Trent both missing from the lineup. Embiid made it a point to control the boards in game one. The Raptors finished second in the NBA this year with over 13 offensive rebounds per game, trailing only the Memphis Grizzlies (14). On Saturday, the Raptors only managed to pull down a total of seven offensive rebounds. Embiid grabbed four on his own and that should continue in game two tonight.
Prediction: Sixers go up 2-0, easily
There’s no shot the Sixers lose tonight. I do believe it will be a lot closer than game one given the expected adjustments and the fact that Nick Nurse is a damn good coach.
The 76ers will go up 2-0 in the series and we’ll all be overly confident. We all know that playoff series are not won until a road team wins a game but it will be damn nice to head to Toronto with a 2-0 lead.
Game 2 Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
|76ers||-7.5 (-112)||-330||O216 (-110)|
|Raptors||+7.5 (-108)||+265||U216 (-110)|
Lets Get Sick, Shall We?
In Danny Green We Trust. (Sick, I know)
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Mandatory Credit: Getty Images