76ERS (0-1) AT RAPTORS (1-0)
8 p.m. ET; TNT
The Philadelphia 76ers will be facing a double whammy when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Monday night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
They must figure out how to win in Toronto and, more importantly, how to deal with Kawhi Leonard, who scored a career playoff-best 45 points in the Raptors’ 108-95 Game 1 victory on Saturday.
“He’s a tough player, I mean he’s Kawhi,” said Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, who matched up against Leonard. “He’s a physical guy, a lot of length; he can shoot the ball, so he’s a tough guy to match up on.”
“Incrementally, just every year he gets more dominant,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said.
“That was again, a big time performance at both ends,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “And I just like the force that he is playing with at both ends, but especially when he is getting the ball. He is pushing it up the floor, he is punching gaps with force, and he is determined to get to spaces.”
Meanwhile, the 76ers have not won in Toronto since Nov. 10, 2012, with 14 consecutive losses including Saturday. The teams have not met in the playoffs since 2001.
The Raptors have won a franchise-record five straight playoff games, starting with Game 2 of their first-round series with the Orlando Magic. In each of those wins, they have held their opponents to 96 points or fewer.
“I think we saw what we expected, and we just have to do a better job of generating good shots,” said JJ Redick, who led the 76ers with 17 points. “There’s got to be a good-to-great mindset and just try to make connective plays. I think when we did that, we had good offense, and when we didn’t, we didn’t look very good. Obviously there’s a reason we shot under 40 percent.”
The 76ers shot 39.3 percent Saturday, while Toronto shot 51.9 percent.
Raptors opponents are averaging 92.5 points and shooting 38.9 percent from the field through six postseason games.
Leonard added 11 rebounds in 38 minutes for his second double-double of the 2019 playoffs.
Leonard and Pascal Siakam combined for 34 of Toronto’s first-quarter points Saturday. Siakam finished with 29 points, 17 in the first quarter.
Philadelphia did out-rebound Toronto 47-40, including 13-2 on the offensive boards, and the 76ers had a 14-2 advantage in second-chance points.
“I thought our defense was pretty good, but not — let’s put it this way — there is room for improvement,” Nurse said. “I thought we had several breakdowns as well, but what stood out for me is that we did one thing that we set out to do, which was get up and get in them, right? We didn’t want to let them have too much easy.”
The 76ers will try to find a way to get more from Joel Embiid, who was 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) from the field while scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds in Game 1.
“You have to give credit to Marc Gasol, he was the defensive player of the year for a reason,” Brown said. “I thought Serge (Ibaka) came in and did a good job athletically, especially making it difficult for Joel.
“I have to help him more. I think getting him into the post different ways, freeing him up a little bit more than we did is something that I have to look at. But I give Toronto credit for their defensive effort (Saturday).”
–Field Level Media