Raptors looked like a nightmare matchup for Sixers in their 108-95 home win in Game 1 of East Semifinals Saturday. According to the scoreboard, it was a 13-point Toronto win, but it never felt so close. Four minutes into the game, Raps took the lead and never gave it back. With Game 2 on Monday night, there are six questions that Sixers will answer if they want to stay in the series.
Who Defends Kawhi Leonard?
Kawhi Leonard made Sixers look helpless on the way to dropped 45 points in play 1. Leonard hit disputed mid-jumpers, spun into the pitch and pulled out of 3. The word "unstoppable" is thrown a lot, but that is what Leonard was on Saturday. Ben Simmons said after the game that Sixers needs to treat Leonard as he is Giannis Antetokounmpo, showing more help to get the ball out of his hands. I wish him happiness in the coming wars.
Turning Leonard for a playmaker is just a good idea in theory. Passage is not Leonard's preference, but it is not an exploitable weakness. He has shown in recent years that he can throw strikes into cutters and shooters when he needs to. The 201
Leonard makes this triple team look like it's a half-speed practice scrimmage. Many players will panic here. Raptors had the league's sixth best 3-point percent, and both Marc Gasol (44.2 percent from 3) and Siakam (36.9 percent on corner 3s) are wide open on the game above. All it takes is a simple kickout for Gasol to find Siakam. There were countless other cases when Leonard drove and scored, but had Gasol open at the top of the key. If Leonard doesn't feel like he was in Game 1, he can create for others.
Last round scattered Raptors Magic every time they caught or helped – would Sixers really have more success than Orlando? Instead of overhauling their defensive strategy, they might have to change matchups. Leonard owned Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris and shot 5-for-5 when they were defended by Harris and 5-for-6 against Butler. The figures are indicative of how Leonard used his strength to overpower Butler and his body control to slip off Harris. It is this mixture of physical traits and his ability to maintain the possession of the ball that makes him so hard to cover. At 6-foot 10 with a muscular frame, Simmons is best equipped for Leonard's athletic skill. In Game 1 he held Leonard for only 4 to 9 shots. It's a small test, but Simmons did a great job of fighting over and through screens to hold onto Leonard, and his point-of-attack defense was superior to Butler and Harris.
What about defending the rest of the bird birds? 19659008] If Simmons becomes the primary defender of Leonard, Butler could switch to Kyle Lowry. But instead of putting Harris on Siakam, it might make sense to put Harris on Gasol and Embiid at Siakam.
Gasol usually protrudes from the top of the arch or wing, while Siakam is in the corners. If Embiid is on Siakam, he is better able to help in painting to contain the inevitable drives of Leonard.
Maybe the carpets count by having Siakam isolate Embiid. But isn't it a win for Sixers? Or maybe they change Gasol to the corner and put Siakam on the wing. Isn't it also a win for Sixers? Siakam shot only 27 percent on over-the-break 3s this season. Perhaps Raptors post Gasol on Harris, as Siakam did in Game 1. Harris was dominated by Siakam, who scored 12 points in 5 to 8 shooters when he was defended by Harris. But Siakam is a more efficient postcorer than Gasol, and Embiid is a better defender who can include Siakam's dribble drive. It's a risk that Sixers should take.
How wide is the bench gap?
In the row there was a lot of talk about how weak Toronto's bench has become after Leonard and Gasol traders, but it is practically Ocean's Eleven relative to the Sixers reserves. Ibaka, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell are blowing Brown's options. Jonah Bolden is one of the least reliable defenders in the post season. T.J. McConnell is T.J. McConnell, for better or worse. Mike Scott's absence due to a foot injury means he trusts Furkan Korkmaz and Boban Marjanovic, none of whom have any business in this series.
Gasol drained open pick-and-pop 3, because Marjanovic and Embiid remain camped in paint, and when they stepped out, Sixers got knocked down. The only positive in Game 1 was James Ennis, who played well at both ends. Sixers must ben Boban and increase Enni's minutes. He is a competitive defender who can hit the spot 3 & 3's. Isn't that what they got him for?
Playing without a backup center would also mean that Simmons or Embiid would serve as the only non-floor spacer in a five-man unit that could help Sixers to offense if they & # 39; re runs the pick-and-roll with Simmons or Embiid instead of Boban, and Butler runs hard down the pitch as the ball handles. Brown should shake it up.
By deviating slightly from the defense, Sixers may be able to force Raptors to do the same on misdemeanor for a total win. The reality is that Sixers is the less talented team in this series and faces the most talented player. Leonard doesn't stop there. If you play him one-on-one, he can turn on Michael Jordan Mode and kill you with isolation. If you double or triple, he will swing the ball to a shooter. Raptors built a versatile violation with sliders and creators all over the floor. Sixers will put Simmons, their best circus defense, on Leonard and work to limit everyone else as best they can.
Can Embiid Overcome Gasol?
Raphael President Masai Ujiri took over Marc Gasol to continue stopping Joel Embiid. Embiid scored 29 points and shot 10-for-29, including 0-for-9 from 3, in the last two seasons against Gasol; veteran spain neutralized the cameroon star again in game 1 and held him to 3 points in 1 to 8 shooting over 29 possessions. Embiid releases his opponents with brutal force by drawing mistakes and establishing deep positioning to get easier shots closer to the rim. Embiid was the only qualifying player in the season to make a mistake of more than a quarter of his post-up belongings, according to Synergy Sports. But Gasol is a mountainous man who is allergic to fouling. He has old-fashioned strength, enhanced by a deep knowledge of resistance tendencies, and the foundation for absorbing backstroke. It will not be easy for Brett Brown's coaching staff to get Embiid to go, especially since he is limited by tendinitis in his left knee, but they must find a way. Running multiple games to create the record can help.
Sixers use a horn action to create a lobe look for Jimmy Butler, but Raptors have two defenders ready to help. Philadelphia has no counter as Embiid dribbles in a post-up against Gasol starting from the perimeter. Endless possessions will not work against Toronto. LPG is too good.
Can Philly perform their set?
Sixers must have a sharper performance of their set plays. In the play below, Butler will set a harder screen on Gasol to create extra space for Embiid to place himself closer to the rim.
Although Gasol still cannot be moved, Embiid would at least be in paint. Embiid routinely started 10-12 feet from the rim, where it is harder to turn into a hook shot or tear through to draw a foul. Embiid's propensity to draw errors gives him a great threat to the post; Gasol's defense makes him average. Posting Embiid against Gasol could still be fruitless, so it was fun how rarely they tried to attack smaller defenders.
he Raptors resists shifting screens involving Gasol, but sometimes they are forced to. This is how basketball works. You don't always get what you want because offenses dictate how to defend. Yet Sixers didn't do enough to take Toronto out of their comfort zone. In the middle of the first quarter, Embiid put an on-ball screen to Tobias Harris, who spoke to the center of the floor as Embiid rolled hard to the rim. Harris defender Danny Green had no choice but to switch to Embiid, causing Toronto to double with Leonard. It's a win for Sixers. Embiid scored on a bank shot, but also had both Harris and Butler wide open if he chose to kick the ball out.
Can Sixers Punish Serge Ibaka?
Sixers also did not punish Serge Ibaka with Embiid enough.
Ibaka is dead here. Redick puts a hard screen on him, embiid is parked under the rim and easily pulls a bug. While Embiid scored 13 points in nine shots when he defended by Ibaka, three of the shots were challenged perimeter jumpers and only one was a post, which is exactly what Raptor's wishes. Instead of calling games like the one above that resulted in Embiid burying Ibaka, Brown pindowns called Spring Embiid open in the 3rd or Embiid would pick and pop or attack closeouts.
Is it the negligence of the Sixers coaching employee's side? (Maybe.) Is it fatigue for Embiid? (Definitely – he's injured and out of shape. Ibaka burned him on several occasions in transition.) In any way, Sixers have to create more opportunities for Embiid closer to the basket over the 15 minutes that Embiid and Ibaka are both on the court and LPG is off. It's their chance to make Toronto break. It's their chance to get Embiid to go. It's their chance to close the hole.