Raptors and 76ers set to battle in second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs


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Toronto Raptors

In one match up in the Eastern Conference semifinal playoff round, the second seed Toronto Raptors take on the third seed Philadelphia 76ers. Toronto had a 58-24 record during the regular season and defeated the Magic in five games in the first round of the playoffs. The 76ers were 51-31 during the regular season and took down the Nets in five after losing the first game.

Comparing the teams statistically through the regular season, the 76ers were near the top in the league in scoring, assists and rebounding, ranked 4th in each category. They were only 19th in points allowed and 25th in turnovers. Toronto was in the top ten in three-point efficiency (6th), scoring (8th) and points allowed (9th). Solid in other phases of the game as well, they ranked in the middle of the pack in assist, rebounding an turnovers.

Kawhi Leonard has been hot in the post season, averaging 27.8 points and shooting 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. Pascal Siakam has been a reliable second option for the Raptors, averaging 22.6 points and leading the team in rebounding at 8.4 per game. Kyle Lowry was his usual solid presence at the point, averaging 8.6 assists per game. Big man Serge Ibaka added 7.2 rebounds per game. The Raptors his 37 percent from beyond the arc in the first round.

Despite missing a game and being limited in the others, Joel Embiid lead the 76ers against the Nets averaging 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in only 24 minutes per game. Tobias Harris rebounded from a late season slump, averaging 17.6 points and nine rebounds, while Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler added a combined 33 points per game. Back up center Boban Marjanovic averaged an impressive 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in only 15 minutes. Toronto could cause match up problems for him, possibly limiting his effectiveness.

The Raptors took three of the four meetings between the teams this season. The only game the 76ers won was on December 22 when the Raptors played without Leonard. In fact, Leonard has never lost to the 76ers, 13-0 during his career. However, he has never faced the 76ers with their current roster, which included Tobis Harris and Marjanovic.
This is a series that will likely go the distance. The 76ers have a shot if they can contain Leonard, limit turnovers, show intensity on defense and have a healthy, effective Embiid. That's a lot to ask for. It would not be a total surprise if the 76ers win the series, but the Raptors are very tough at home (32-9) and were stellar on the road (26-15). The best bet is for the Raptors in seven.

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