Here we are, looking Game 3 dead in the face. The 76ers made the Raptors uncomfortable in Game 2, and the Raptors missed a chunk of make-able shots. The Raptors did a great job of taking the wind out of the 76ers respective offensive sails as well, but the series still sits at 1-1 before Game 3 tips off. All the beat writers have looked up “adjustment” in their respective thesaurus’, the teams have no doubt reviewed the tape, and we’re all ready to rumble.
Kawhi Leonard is by far the best player in this series. Even if Joel Embiid was healthy, it would be Kawhi Leonard. If LeBron James was playing for the 76ers, Leonard might be the best player in the series. In fact, he might just be the best player in the postseason thus far. Kevin Durant would have something to say, but Leonard’s continued excellence next to Lowry’s inevitable, effervescent, all-consuming “winning stuff” has made the Raptors at their worst, stiff competition for one of the league’s best teams and at their best, maybe something closer to a raging, burning star.
This is pretty incredible pic.twitter.com/StdpPos87q
— Kyle Lowry Apologist (@gnavas103) April 30, 2019
For this Raptors playoff run, the unconscionable on-court good that comes from this duo will be the thing that (if it is going to happen) will take the Raptors to a Championship Parade – that Drake hopefully doesn’t attend – on Yonge Street. Even though the Raptors lost Game 2, one of the most enjoyable things we saw was Lowry banging in clutch triples. A Raptors team that features the shooting we’ve come to expect from Lowry in past years – think last year’s playoffs (44-percent) not this years (28-percent) – is big trouble for any opponent, and if this is indicative of things to come the Raptors should handle the rest of the 76ers series as professionally as they did the Magic.
Outside of the obvious concerns with Embiid’s health, the 76ers had welcome news as Mike Scott (Raptors Killer) and Greg Monroe (Former Raptor, now Raptors Killer) both practiced for the 76ers after Monroe sustained a rolled ankle and Scott’s plantar fasciitis has improved. Last year in the Raptors-Wizards series, Scott averaged near 11-points and 4-boards a game on a truly absurd 63-percent from the field and 63-percent (!!!) from three point land. Monroe is a +15 in the Raptors-Sixers series so far and was particularly impactful in Game 2, collecting 10-points and 5 rebounds before exiting with the aforementioned injury.
The welcome news when it comes to discussing the Raptors bench is that there’s nowhere to go but up, really. Fred VanVleet has been one of the best regular season bench guards of the past 2 years and he put up 0-points, 0-assists and a plus-minus of -18 in 18-minutes in Game 2 as the bench failed to make it into double-digits scoring. If I were to guess, there’s probably some clever staggering coming from Nurse to maximize certain players a bit more. Or at the very least, an effort at that.
If you’re looking for deep dives about adjustments, modifications, alterations, revisions, transformations, adaptations, or acclimatization (THESAURUS) you can find Louis Zatzman’s wonderful chess analogues, Adam McQueen’s request for more creativity, and my small suggestions that were sandwiched between the two. Outside of that, Vivek Jacob (Yahoo) Blake Murphy (My Dad) and Eric Koreen (The Athletic) all write fantastic stuff elsewhere.
“There’s always little things you wished you would have changed, left this guy in longer or put this guy in sooner; there’s always little things here and there. But, again, I think we played pretty well with this rotation, we wanted to stay with it as much as we can.” – Nick Nurse
We can all expect a fairly rowdy crowd in Philadelphia, and the 76ers typically draw a lot of energy from them. The 76ers were a very good home team this year (31-10) and a middling team on the road (20-21). Even though the Raptors are a much better team (one man’s opinion) the 76ers have a boatload of talent and a hungry crowd to will them to victory. The Raptors have to bring it if they want to take Game 3. Myself, I’m okay with taking 3 or 4 (why not both?), I predicted this series would go 6 games with the Raptors closing it out in Philadelphia.
Joel Embiid eclipses 20-points for the first time in the series, but the 76ers still lose.
TV: SportsNet One/ESPN | Tipoff: 8:10 EST
OG Anunoby (appendectomy) is out. “I don’t think there’s anything close at all,” – Nick Nurse. Chris Boucher is not expected to play.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Jeremy Lin, Jordan Loyd
SG: Danny Green, Norman Powell, Jodie Meeks
SF: Kawhi Leonard, Patrick McCaw, Malcolm Miller
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Eric Moreland
Greg Monroe (ankle) is probable, Mike Scott (plantar fasciitis) is questionable.
PG: Ben Simmons, TJ McConnell
SG: JJ Redick, James Ennis III, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith
SF: Jimmy Butler, Furkan Korkmaz, Jonathan Simmons
PF: Tobias Harris, Mike Scott
C: Joel Embiid, Greg Monroe, Boban Marjanovic
Hopefully this game is super fun to watch, just like the other two. Would be a bit better if the Raptors steal this one, if only to antagonize Philadelphia sports fans just a bit.
Have a blessed day.