Before Game 7 tips off tonight, we got the lowdown on the Raptors from the media on the other side. What would Toronto have to do to beat the Sixers in Game 7?
I think there are two key points. They have to hit open shots around Kawhi Leonard. The Sixers have done a good job getting the ball out of his hands. The Raptors have done a good job creating really good looks from three-point range and they are hitting 32 percent on wide-open threes. In a one-game sample, you can’t really expect that to normalize, but if that is closer to 40 than to 30 percent, I like the Raptors' chances on offense. And then on the other end, it’s mostly a matter of picking Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons up on the offensive glass. All series, unless Embiid goes off, the biggest way Philadelphia has been able to create cheap offense in the half court is when Toronto loses track of Butler and Simmons once the ball goes up.
Some population other than Kawhi Leonard has to score, someone amongst Ibaka, Gasol and Siakam. I’d say two of those three guys have to have a good game. I think that’s what Philly is willing to live with. Embiid seems to be ignoring all three of them most of the time. They are going to have looks from three, looks from mid-range, and then, if they can convert a reasonable percentage, I think the Raptors are going to be fine. But if they don’t look to shoot or to take advantage of the room they are going to get, then Embiid gets to camp out in the paint, make life difficult for Lowry and suck up all those offensive rebounds. Then you’re really just depending on Leonard to create anything. And that’s a risky way to go.
I know it sounds really simplistic, but I really think that for the Raptors to win, they’ve just got to make shots, because it takes transition away from Philadelphia where Ben Simmons is far more dangerous than he is in the half court. The Raptors' defense tends to feed off their offense and if they get on a roll, I think that’s what puts them over the top. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be intense and it’s going to be very emotional. But if they calm down, get some shots in and their defense set up, take Philly out of what they do most effectively, I think that’s how they win.
My two things: Play the defense that they played for four of the six games in this series, and the five games against Orlando. Nine of 11 games they’ve been really good defensively, holding opponents under 43 percent shooting, and that translates during the regular season — going all the way back to when Bryan Colangelo was the GM here — to a ridiculous win percentage. And the other thing is, make open shots. The quintessential make or miss phrase comes to mind but barring that, they’ve won some games in the series here and against Orlando when they didn’t make shots because the defense was good. I think it’s going to be close. The line is Toronto by six — I wouldn’t touch that. I think it’s going to be within the six points. And another thing — Leonard has been in win or go home games three times and has never had more than 20 points.
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