One difference between playoff games and regular season games in the NBA is the level of control exerted on a play-by-play basis. In the playoffs, teams will find a weakness and stomp on it until opponents find an answer or say uncle. In the regular season, teams (sometimes) have more mercy or at least shorter attention spans. Yet against the Philadelphia 76ers, the first rematch since the Toronto Raptors' playoff defeat, the home team was disciplined to the point of absurdity. At the heart of the control, the specificity, was Scottie Barnes.
The Raptors ran six pick and rolls on their first six plays. Barnes was the screener in all six. He created space for Fred VanVleet to drive middle or O.G. Anunoby to catch in the corner and attack. He backpedaled after a screen and hit a catch-and-shoot triple. He slipped a screen for Pascal Siakam to draw both defenders with him, and Siakam drilled the pullup triple. Barnes found weaknesses and stepped on them, play after play.
It was how you'd expect a team to start a playoff game: identify a strength and hit it until the opposing coach reacts. Perhaps the Raptors did so because they faced their most recent playoff foe, thus having some extra demons to exercise. But it wasn't just the intentionality of Barnes' screening that gave the Raptors an upper hand; it was the diversity of organizational strengths.
In the second half, the Raptors went away from Barnes as a bureaucratic bastion. He created in a variety of other ways. He received the ball on the nail and handed the ball to Gary Trent jr., running a UCLA top over top. Trent stepped back for a triple. Barnes set a pick for VanVleet. He flashed middle against a zone and buzzed the ball to the weakside for an open triple. He cut baseline on a Siakam post up. Barnes wasn't always scoring or recording highlights, but his presence was at the heart of Toronto's success.