NBA Playoffs, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors

Kawhi Leonard is unstoppable for Raptors in Game 1 blowout

Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam were unstoppable in Game 1 for the Toronto Raptors, pouring in buckets and pushing a close game into a blowout.

Both the Raptors and 76ers lost the first game of their first-round series. The Raptors were the ones who avoided repeating that fate, thanks to enormous performances from Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. That pair was 13-of-19 in the first quarter, helping Toronto build an eight-point lead they’d never relinquish. The 76ers were able to keep things hovering around a double-digits but managed just 43 points in the second half and never seemed to build enough momentum to make a serious run.

Toronto Raptors


Philadelphia 76ers



Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard are the new Raptors. This forward tandem has been the heart of the Raptors’ dominance for much of this season and they were both key in the five-game series win over the Magic. It’s hard to imagine them getting off to a better start in this series against the 76ers. Siakam and Leonard combined for 74 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1 (45 and 11 for Leonard and 29 and 7 for Siakam), shooting a ridiculous 28-of-38 from the field and 6-of-11 on 3-pointers. They were the only two Raptors in double-figures. Their efficiency, activity and versatility created myriad problems for Philadelphia, including leveraging rotation patterns by exploiting 76ers defensive matchups. They were, far and away, the two best players on the floor in Game 1. That will probably be true for Leonard no matter what, but if Siakam outplays everyone on the 76ers, this series could move quickly.

The 76ers balance showed out, their depth didn’t. Philadelphia had six different players in double-figures, six different players hit a 3-pointer and eight different players record an assist. However, their rotation was functionally six players — getting solid minutes from James Ennis and, for a variety of reasons, extreme shakiness from Boban Marjanovic, Jonah Bolden and Furkan Korkmaz. The balance is a good thing but it’s also reflective of a team that couldn’t really get a toehold. They moved the ball, guys hit shots. But they didn’t have any specific advantage they could exploit and lean into, the one player they could keep feeding and rely on. In this case, the balance was reactive instead of proactive. Moving deeper into the series, they’ll need to figure out what levers they really want to lean on offensively, and what pieces they’re comfortable using off the bench.

Next: Who guards who in the Raptors-76ers matchup?

Joel Embiid struggled with Marc Gasol. Embiid seems like the most obvious leverage point for Philadelphia to lean on but he’s also banged up and Gasol was able to keep him off balance in Game 1. Embiid was just 5-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-11 in the paint. Gasol did a nice job on Embiid during the regular season. In two games, both against Memphis before Gasol was traded, Embiid averaged just 15.7 points per 100 possessions with Gasol as his primary defender, down from 37.3 across the entire season. If the Raptors can control this matchup it will send ripple effects through Philadelphia’s offense, throwing up obstacles they may not be able to overcome.

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