The Raptors keep on rolling with their largest Game 1 victory in franchise history! Alright, so there have only been two other Game 1 wins (3-point win over the Sixers in ‘01, and an 8-point win over the Wizards last year), but a win’s a win, and Raptor fans will take it knowing we’ve got the best player in the series.
In the latest episode, Kawhi Leonard had us all tripping over our own words.
On The Latest Episode:
Is it crazy to think this may not be the “Kawhi Game” that will define these playoffs? Kawhi scored a career-high 45 points and got whatever he wanted offensively. He also compiled the first 40-point, 10-rebound game in franchise history. All very fine numbers. However, the way in which Kawhi relentlessly attacked the Sixers’ defense has every Raptor fan salivating over what else he can do.
While Toronto had the two best players on the floor (again) in Kawhi and Pascal Siakam, it’s easy to forget about Marc Gasol and his continued dominance on the defensive end - both in the playoffs and against Joel Embiid. Adding to the positives, the Raptors also managed to get to the line more than the Sixers. Shocking because Philly was one of the top teams in the first round at getting free throws, while Toronto ranked dead-last.
If Kawhi was Michael Jordan, then Siakam was definitely Scottie Pippen. Pascal had his way with Tobias Harris, scoring 22 in the first half alone. On the defensive end, Siakam was able to cool off JJ Redick at the tail-end of the third quarter. Meanwhile, both Raptor centres played their butts off. Gasol shut down Embiid (again), and Ibaka filled in admirably off the bench, adding a pair of blocks and affording Gasol the necessary rest before continuing his battle with Embiid.
Toronto’s bench continues to struggle, getting held to 10 points. At the end of the day, the starters dominating the Sixers’ starting five make any gripes about the bench shrug-worthy. What was worthy fretting over was the offensive glass. Toronto may have dominated from the start, but Philadelphia’s ability to grab some offensive boards kept the game closer than it should’ve been.
Redick was red-hot to start the second half, hitting five triples. Once Kyle was removed from chasing Redick all over the floor, Siakam guarded Redick, and kept the sharpshooter scoreless.
There really aren’t a lot of adjustments required by the Raptors, outside of ensuring the bench doesn’t hemorrhage points and maintains the lead given by the starters.
2:20 - Numbers that stood out (not related to Kawhi)
5:40 - Kawhi/Gasol/Ibaka
9:20 - Bench/rebounding need to be cleaned up
13:00 - Is Embiid more injured than he’s letting on?