Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers 4/18/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers Matchup Preview (4/18/22)
The Toronto Raptors (0-1) will look to bounce back against the Philadelphia 76ers (1-0) after losing 131-111 in Game 1. Pascal Siakam paced the team in scoring at 24 points on 9/18 from the field. He also added 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 blocks while starting at center. Fred VanVleet scored 18 points and facilitated 6 assists. Toronto has to find a way to get him more shots; he went 7/12 overall and 4/7 from three. OG Anunoby scored 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds on 9/15 from the field and 2/5 from three. He was a key two-way player for the Raptors in Game 1. Gary Trent Jr played poorly on both ends of the court. He struggled to guard the 76ers backcourt, and he scored 9 points on 2/7 from three. Rookie Scottie Barnes excelled in his first playoff game, going for 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists on 4/6 shooting. Unfortunately, he injured his foot in the 4th quarter and had to be helped off the court. Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr, and Thaddeus Young are all doubtful for Game 2, which is soul-crushing for Toronto. If all three cannot go, the starting lineup will likely be VanVleet, Brooks, Anunoby, Siakam, and Achiuwa.
Philadelphia started the postseason with a dominant performance. James Harden is looking to squash the narrative that he chokes in the playoffs. He was excellent in Game 1, and the 76ers look like a title threat if they can repeat this performance consistently. Harden produced 22 points, 5 rebounds, 14 assists, and only 1 turnover on 6/17 from the field and 4/7 from three. Joel Embiid only took 15 shots in this game because his teammates were scorching hot. Embiid finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists. Tyrese Maxey stole the show by scoring 38 points on 14/21 from the field and 5/8 from deep. He became the youngest 76ers player ever to score 30 points in a playoff game. Tobias Harris finally showed some signs of life with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Philadelphia won’t repeat their 51.2 FG% and 50 3PT% every game, but Game 1 showed their potential when firing on all cylinders.
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers Betting Odds
Toronto won the regular season series 3-1, but they looked completely out of their depth in Game 1. The 76ers led by 8 points after the 1st quarter and by 18 at halftime. Toronto found their scoring groove in the 3rd quarter at 37 points, but they allowed the 76ers to score 38. Overall, it was a forgettable game for them. The spread for Game 1 was -4.5 76ers, and it has jumped to -7.5 76ers in Game 2. I like the 76ers to cover here for a variety of reasons. Scottie Barnes is arguably their best defender, but he’s also an efficient scorer and playmaker. Barnes is essential for their offense and defense, so they cannot afford to lose him. Trent Jr’s shooting provides key spacing for this squad. The offense will suffer without Barnes and Trent Jr. Toronto’s health combined with the lack of rim protection is giving me severe doubts about their ability to hang with the 76ers. It’s unlikely Philadelphia shoots 50 3PT% in Game 2, but it’s also unlikely Embiid will be held to 19 points again. I think Game 2 will be slightly closer, but Philadelphia wins by 7+ points often enough to bet the spread.
The over under was 216 total points in Game 1, and the teams ended up combining for 242 points. In Game 2, the line has increased to 216.5 points. I am going with the over because the 76ers can score 115+ points without a great shooting night. That would mean the Raptors need 102+ points, which is extremely feasible.
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Time: 7:30 PM ET
Arena: Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA
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Toronto Raptors Starting Lineup
Toronto Raptors Analysis
Toronto started 6’9” forward Pascal Siakam at center and hoped their switchable, versatile lineup could compensate for the clear deficiencies. However, it was clear that the lineup provided no rim protection, which cannot happen against the 76ers. Embiid looked like a giant out there, and Maxey was getting to the rim with ease. With Barnes and Trent Jr likely out, Toronto will start Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher their place. Achiuwa is an energizer and opportunistic scorer, but he doesn’t have the size or discipline to limit Embiid in the paint. Boucher is a spot up shooter who is more comfortable on the perimeter. The Raptors will have more size on the court, but it’s still not enough to handle Embiid. Toronto will have to get creative with their defensive schemes – do they play more zone defense to protect the rim? Nick Nurse is a schematic genius who wasn’t afraid to use a 2-3 zone or Box and 1 defense in the 2019 Finals.
Toronto ranked 22nd in Spot Up defense during the regular season, and it showed in Game 1. Harden is an elite playmaker, and Embiid can pass out of the double team – especially since he has the 5th passing lane open (over the defender’s head). As crazy as it sounds, the Raptors must prioritize defending Tyrese Maxey over James Harden. Maxey’s outside shooting (45.1 3PT% on catch and shoot threes) is too lethal, and his lightning-quick first step allowed him to drive past defenders all night. Harden, meanwhile, shoots 3.1% worse on drives than Maxey and has a higher turnover percentage by 2.6%. On pull-up jump shots, Harden shoots a 34.4 FG% and 33.2 3PT%, while Maxey shoots a 40.2 FG% and 40.3 3PT%. If I am the Raptors, I am forcing Harden to be a scorer and taking away his perimeter outlets.
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup
Philadelphia 76ers Analysis
Because Matisse Thybulle cannot play in Canada, the 76ers inserted Danny Green into the starting lineup to build chemistry. Although Thybulle is the better player, this calculated move is a fantastic decision for this series. Green only started 28 of 62 games during the regular season, so he needs to adjust to playing with the starting unit. He also shot 38 3PT%, while Thybulle shot 31.3 3PT%. The Raptors struggle guarding catch and shoot specialists, so Green is the better matchup against Toronto. After this series though, the 76ers need to start Thybulle again. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, and Green struggled to contain the Raptors from driving past him. For now, the 76ers can deploy Thybulle off the bench and shut down any scoring run by Toronto’s 2nd unit.
Embiid only scored 19 points, but his presence opened up the court for his teammates. When the term gravity comes up, it usually refers to Curry’s shooting and how that stretches the floor. Opponents must focus on Curry at the three-point line and leave the paint more vulnerable than desired. However, gravity also works in the opposite direction. The Raptors lack of rim protection means they must constantly double Embiid in the paint. When Embiid posts up, there will frequently be an open shooter waiting to launch a three. His impact on the 76ers offense goes beyond the basic box score because it can’t measure the increase in shot quality his teammates are getting. Joel’s aggression also forces the Raptors into foul trouble, which they cannot afford. If Siakam gets three fouls early, the Raptors will have virtually no chance of winning the game. Overall, the 76ers need to play at their pace and continue to run their offense through the pick and roll.