Can the Sixers bounce back from a Game 1 loss the same way they did in the first round against the Nets?
Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick give their predictions for Game 2 of the Sixers' second-round series against the Raptors.
There’s been a lot of talk about adjustments after a Game 1 loss Saturday — and again at practice Sunday afternoon.
Will the Sixers be able to make enough of them to even the series Monday night?
The key defensively will be slowing down Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. These guys aren’t going to shoot 70 percent for the series, but they’re both capable of scoring in bunches. With Leonard, it seems like Ben Simmons was the only defender that affected him. He went just 4 of 9 when guarded by Simmons. Siakam’s evolution into a more diverse offensive player is such a huge boon for the Raptors and a big problem for the Sixers.
The law of averages will probably help the Sixers out on defense, but they have serious work to do offensively. Can Joel Embiid get anything going against Marc Gasol? Will we see a more aggressive Jimmy Butler? The Sixers need way more out of both if they want to have a chance in this series. It would be ideal to cut down on the turnovers as well.
The Sixers have now lost 14 straight in Toronto. Until they can prove they’re able to win at Scotiabank Arena, it’s hard to pick them. It’s a closer game, but the Raptors go to the Wells Fargo Center Thursday with a 2-0 lead and the Sixers will be in a difficult hole.
The Sixers conceded only two offensive rebounds Saturday night, the fewest they’ve allowed in a game since April 4, 2017.
On the surface, that’s a commendable defensive rebounding performance. But it also complicates the reasonable assumption that Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam are going to miss a few more contested jumpers — the odds are the Raptors are also going to grab a couple more of those misses in Game 2.
Brett Brown should learn from all the things that did not work for the Sixers in Game 1, from the rotating cast of defenders he threw at Leonard to the curious decision to give Furkan Korkmaz meaningful minutes.
The Sixers’ bench actually outscored the Raptors’ in Game 1, 24-10, but Brown doesn’t seem to have settled on any solutions without Mike Scott. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Zhaire Smith or T.J. McConnell get opportunities — McConnell would seem well suited to match up against Fred VanVleet. Regardless, Joel Embiid’s ineffectiveness vs. Marc Gasol and Jimmy Butler’s struggles on both ends of the floor are larger concerns.
I expect the Sixers to be much more competitive in Game 2, but I think Toronto looks like the more cohesive team down the stretch and protects their home court.
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