Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (3)
We are finally here. After the first round, we’re now at the round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs were the top contenders are ready to do battle. Both the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers dropped their first games at home last series before going on to complete the gentleman’s sweep of five games over the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets.
The Raptors play well on both sides of the floor. Their second-ranked defense made life tough for the Magic and they seemed to make a concerted effort in guarding DJ Augustin after he went off in Game 1 against them. The 76ers are also talented defensively with Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons harassing guards and forwards around the perimeter and Joel Embiid there to clean up the mess.
The 76ers are first in pace and have the third-ranked offensive rating so that should make for an interesting series.
The Raptors won the regular season series 3-1 with the 76ers and they won both games at home, where they’ll start the series tonight. One notable is that all four regular-season series games happened before the trade deadline so they were before Tobias Harris was traded to the 76ers and Marc Gasol was traded to the Raptors.
Series TV Schedule
Game 1: Sat, April 27 Philadelphia at Toronto. 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2: Mon, April 29 Philadelphia at Toronto, 8 p.m. ET
Game 3: Thur, May 2 Toronto at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. ET
Game 4: Sun, May 5 Toronto at Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m. ET
Games 5-7 TBD if necessary
Toronto Raptors Starting Lineup
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup
Key Player Matchups
PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Ben Simmons
Edge: Philadelphia. I would be surprised to see this matchup actually play out. I can see Nick Nurse defending Simmons with Danny Green and assigning J.J. Redick to Lowry. But based on matchups alone, I have to give Simmons the slight edge here. He really stepped up to the challenge against Brooklyn and seemed to perform better as the series went on.
SG – Danny Green vs. J.J. Redick
Edge Even. Green’s numbers won’t jump off the page for you, but what he did on defense against Orlando was a big reason why Toronto was able to stay dominant after the Game 1 loss. Redick’s usage rate dropped a bit in the first round and he can shoot the ball, but I expect the Raptors to try and target him when he’s on defense.
SF – Kawhi Leonard vs. Jimmy Butler
Edge Raptors. Leonard and Butler are both defensive stalwarts who can also put up buckets, but Leonard is on a different level at this point. He was special in the first round, raising his scoring average, and he’s historically done well against the 76ers regardless of who’s in front of him.
PF – Pascal Siakam vs. Tobias Harris
Edge Even. Siakam and Harris were both huge for their respective teams in the first round. They were both consistent and this matchup looks to be one of the most interesting on paper. Any other year, and this would be in Harris’ favor, but Siakam has taken some serious strides this season.
C – Marc Gasol vs. Joel Embiid
Edge 76ers. This is another interesting matchup, but Embiid started looking much more mobile and dominant as the series vs. the Nets played out. Gasol defended Embiid well this season in a few games when he was still with Memphis, but the playoffs are a different animal altogether.
Coach: Nick Nurse vs. Brett Brown
Edge 76ers. Nurse has had a very successful year one as the head coach of the Raptors, but his mettle will really be tested in this series. I give Brown a slight edge here. What he’s done in a very short time with Philadelphia should not be overlooked.
Bench: Edge Raptors. Even with OG Anunoby sitting out, the Raptors have the superior bench. Mike Scott could also miss some time with a heel injury, which hurts Philly’s bench even more. Boban Marjanovic had a big series against the Nets, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue that against Toronto’s bigs.
Marc Gasol/Serge Ibaka – After playing against Jarrett Allen in the first round, the talent level at center will be at a different level for Joel Embiid and Boban Marjanovic. In Gasol, you have a big shot-blocking body that can defend at the rim and try to keep Embiid away from getting too deep into the paint. Ibaka provides a more mobile big that can use his athleticism.
Jimmy Butler – Butler had a great Game 1 against Brooklyn, but he didn’t have another game where he looked as strong. If Butler can score and keep the pressure on Kawhi Leonard, that could be a series changer for Philadelphia. I can see Butler trying to get in Kawhi’s head as Philadelphia also runs doubles at him to try to get him to force up shots.
Raptors in 7. This should be a very interesting series with two teams that match up well against each other. Toronto having home court advantage against a 76ers team that has struggled to win in Toronto, and their depth advantage should play out in their favor over the 76ers.
For more predictions on this and every series, check out our 2019 NBA 2nd round Playoff Prediction Roundup tomorrow.
Odds & Line Movement Links: Vegas Odds (All NBA Games Today)