After holding on to beat the Raptors on Monday in Toronto, 94-89, the Sixers look to defend their home court, beginning Thursday night.
Paul Hudrick and Noah Levick give their predictions for Game 3.
The Sixers’ Game 2 win on the road was impressive. Their adjustments and ratcheted-up intensity from Game 1 stood out most.
Kawhi Leonard will keep seeing a ton of Ben Simmons, but expect the Raptors to counter by screening and double screening for Leonard. Nick Nurse will likely do everything he can to get the three-time All-Star away from Simmons.
Putting Joel Embiid on Pascal Siakam was interesting wrinkle from Brett Brown. Siakam seemed bothered by Embiid’s size and wasn’t so easily able to finish at the rim. If Siakam hits more from three — which he’s shown he can from time to time — that could hurt the Sixers. The Raptors may also try to go to Marc Gasol in the post with Tobias Harris guarding him, but both strategies would be somewhat of a change in philosophy and could play right into the Sixers’ hands.
You also have to be encouraged by what you’ve seen out of the Sixers’ bench. James Ennis has been the best reserve for either team. Greg Monroe gave them really strong minutes in Game 2. Plus, Mike Scott could be returning to the lineup. Depth was supposed to be Toronto’s advantage, but through two games, that hasn’t been the case.
You also have to think that Embiid will get it going offensively at some point. Returning to the Wells Fargo Center for Game 3 seems like the opportune time for that. If Jimmy Butler has even a similar performance to Monday night, this team is going to be hard to beat.
The Sixers give the fans plenty to cheer about as they take a 2-1 series lead.
It’s time for the adjustments to the adjustments.
Brown helped the Sixers win Game 2 in Toronto by putting Embiid on Siakam, turning to Monroe off the bench, consistently double teaming Leonard in the post — in short, learning from what failed in Game 1. Now the onus is on Nurse and the Raptors to figure out how to win a game (or two) in Philadelphia.
In the first round, Brown acknowledged the Sixers “dodged some bullets” with Joe Harris’ uncharacteristically poor shooting performance. They’ve done the same through the first two games with Danny Green, who told reporters he’s undeterred by his 3-for-13 start to this series.
Meanwhile, the Raptors’ bench has scored 15 points on 6 for 29 shooting. Credit to Ennis, Monroe and Co. for outplaying Toronto’s second unit in the first two games, but you’d expect the Raptors’ bench will shoot better than 20.7 percent this series.
You’d also assume Embiid will make more than two field goals, as he did in Game 2 (a season low), and that Harris will rediscover the offensive groove he was in near the end of the Brooklyn series.
I think we’re in for another close, physical game. The Raptors didn’t experience anything like the atmosphere at Wells Fargo Center in the first round in Orlando. It’s impossible to quantify the influence of a rabid crowd “talking their s---,” as Scott would say, but it will have an impact. The Sixers take Game 3.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.