Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
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Even though the Toronto Raptors are the underdogs they have to feel very optimistic about facing the top seeded Philadelphia 76ers. One reason is that the Raptors dominated the regular season series versus the 76ers, winning 3 out of the 4 games played this year.
With an assist from IBM's data-mining program Advanced Scout, let's take a closer look at the regular season matchups between these two teams.
April 3, at Toronto: Raptors won 100-85
January 30, at Toronto: Raptors won 96-89
January 12, at Philadelphia: Raptors won 110-106
November 1, at Philadelphia: 76ers won 104-98
McKie may be the answer to grounding Air Canada (Vince Carter) and the Raptors
As you might expect, when Vince Carter
is in the game at small forward the Raptors have played extremely well, outscoring the 76ers by 18 (210-192), while shooting 45 percent (89-of-198) compared to the 76ers shooting of 42 percent (46-of-109).
But if we take a closer look inside the numbers we find that the 76ers were able to control Carter and the Raptors when Aaron McKie
was at small forward. With McKie at small forward it is the 76ers that appear to be well in command, leading 94-72 (+22), improving their shooting percentage to 52 percent (34-of-65), and reducing the Raptors shooting to 38 percent (28-of-74).
In addition, Carter's shooting percentage also dropped, to 35 percent with McKie at small forward which is less than his average of 42 percent (15-of-36) when shooting against any other 76ers playing the small forward position. And without McKie at small forward for the 76ers, the Raptors had a 40-point advantage. Additionally, the Raptors team shooting percentage rose to 49 percent (61-of-124) while the 76ers shooting dropped to 36 percent (41-of-115) when McKie was not at small forward.
The Centers of Attention:
The 76ers and the Raptors both made trades during the regular season to upgrade their center positions. The 76ers traded a young emerging center, Theo Ratliff
for one the of the best centers in the game Dikembe Mutombo
. The Raptors did just the opposite trading a veteran center, Kevin Willis
, for the developing young center Keon Clark
Over the regular season series, when Mutombo was playing center for the 76ers they were outscored by 16 points (76-60), while shooting 37 percent (23-of-62) and allowing the Raptors to shoot a higher percentage at 48 percent (36-of-75). When the Raptors had Clark at center they had a 36 point advantage (178-142), shot 52 percent (74-of-141) from the field and held the 76ers to 39 percent (56-of-142) shooting.
Although Mutombo and Clark have only faced each other on the court in one game (as members of these teams), it was the younger center, Keon Clark
and the Raptors that had the upper hand against the 76ers and their veteran All-Star, Dikembe Mutombo
. When Mutombo and Clark were at center, the Raptors outscored the 76ers 36-28 (+8), while shooting an impressive 61 percent (17-of-28) from the field. Clark's shooting percentage was 67 percent (4-of-6). Meanwhile, the 76ers shot 45 percent (10-of-22), with Mutombo shooting 0 percent (0-of-2) and managed to collect 36 percent (4-of-11) of the defensive rebounds.