Playoffs 2019 East Semifinals: Raptors (2) vs. 76ers (3)

Sixers besting Raptors in battle of bench minutes

Three key stats to consider as Game 3 approaches

* Tonight on ESPN: Game 3, Sixers vs. Raptors (8 ET)

Some numbers to take note of as Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers nears …

Some secondary lineup issues

In the battle of the two most dominant lineups of the first round, the Raptors’ starting lineup has outplayed the Sixers’ starting lineup.

The Raptors’ lineup — Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol — has outscored the Sixers by 25.1 points per 100 possessions in its 51 minutes. In 25 minutes with both starting lineups on the floor, the score has been Raptors 63, Sixers 46. Plus, those starters-vs.-starters minutes were even better for the Raptors in Game 2 (33-21) than they were in Game 1 (30-25).

The 29.6 total minutes that the Raptors’ starters played in Game 2 were the most minutes (by a pretty wide margin) that any lineup has played in any game in these playoffs. The only other lineup that has played more than 25 minutes in a game was the Portland starters (25.8) in Game 3 in Oklahoma City. The Raptors were a plus-13 in those 29.6 minutes, which means that they were outscored by 18 points in 18.4 minutes with at least one their reserves on the floor.

(Random note when talking about how many minutes lineups have played in individual games: There have been 49 games in these playoffs through Wednesday and none of them have gone to overtime. Last year, four of 82 playoff games went to OT.)

Some of that damage came against the Philadelphia starters. In 5.4 minutes with the Sixers’ starting lineup on the floor against Toronto lineups that included at least one reserve, Philly outscored Toronto by seven points (12-5).

But most of the damage came with reserves on the floor for both teams. In 13 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor for both Toronto and Philly, the Sixers outscored the Raptors by 11 points (31-20).

The score of those reserves-on-the-floor-for-both-teams minutes in Game 1? Raptors 31, Sixers 20. Same score, different result.

Raptors’ efficiency, conference semifinals
Lineups on floor MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/- G1 G2
Both starting lineups 25.2 121.2 86.8 +34.4 +17 +5 +12
TOR starters, PHI others 25.7 123.1 108.5 +14.6 +13 +12 +1
TOR others, PHI starters 14.2 54.5 103.1 -48.6 -15 -8 -7
TOR others, PHI others 26.7 110.9 102.0 +8.9 +0 +11 -11
TOTAL (non-garbage time) 91.8 107.1 99.5 +7.7 +15 +20 -5
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

One difference in those minutes was that Sixers coach Brett Brown shortened his rotation and limited the time in which he had just one or two starters on the floor. In Game 1 (not counting garbage time), the Sixers were a minus-9 in 5.6 minutes with fewer than three starters on the floor. In Game 2, they were a minus-5 in just 1.4 minutes with fewer than three starters on the floor.

Brown took Furkan Korkmaz out of the rotation, extended Ben Simmons’ minutes (from less than 34 in Game 1 to more than 44 in Game 2) and barely played a mostly-reserve unit that included James Ennis, Jonah Bolden and Boban Marjanovic. In 177 career games, the only time that Simmons has played more was the Sixers’ triple-overtime game against Oklahoma City last season.

Of course, the Sixers also just had better results in their hybrid lineups. In Game 1, the Sixers’ lineups with three or four starters on the floor were a minus-14 in 18.7 minutes. In Game 2, they were a plus-15 in 26.8 minutes.

One matchup the Raptors may want to avoid? Serge Ibaka vs. Joel Embiid. Even though Embiid has shot just 7-for-25 in the series, the Sixers have outscored the Raptors by 28 points in 26 minutes when he’s been on the floor against Ibaka. The Raptors got away with a minus-14 in 13 of those minutes in Game 1, but not again in Game 2.

When ball movement goes bad

As noted after Game 2, the difference between the Raptors win and the Sixers’ win was on Toronto’s end of the floor. The Sixers have scored a little less than a point per possession in each game. In Game 1, the Raptors scored 108 points on 98 possessions. But in Game 2, they were held to just 89 on 95, their fourth-worst offensive performance in 89 total games this season.

Interestingly, one of the biggest differences in the Toronto offense between Games 1 and 2 was ball movement. But the problem in Game 2 wasn’t that the ball didn’t move as much as it did in Game 1. It actually moved a lot more. Even though they had three fewer possessions on Monday, the Raptors passed the ball 67 more times than they did two nights earlier.

Raptors’ passing, conference semifinals
Game TOP Pass P/P Pass/24 AST SAST
1 19.1 247 2.52 310 21 3
2 20.7 314 3.31 364 20 6
TOP = Time of possession (minutes)

P/P = Passes per possession

Pass/24 = Passes per 24 minutes of possession

SAST = Secondary assists

via Second Spectrum tracking

The Raptors rank second in ball movement in the playoffs (352 passes per 24 minutes of possession), the only team that has averaged more passes per 24 than it did in the regular season. The other 15 playoff teams have averaged 30 fewer passes per 24 minutes of possession than they did in the regular season. The Raptors have averaged seven more.

But Toronto has been more efficient when it hasn’t moved the ball as much. In their four playoff games in which they’ve passed the ball fewer than 350 times per 24 minutes of possession, the Raptors have scored 112.5 points per 100 possessions. In their three games in which they’ve passed the ball more than 350 times per 24, they’ve scored just 104.1 points per 100 possessions.

Part of that is that Kawhi Leonard has been the postseason’s most efficient scorer on isolations and its fourth-most efficient scorer on pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions. He has an effective field goal percentage of 62.1 percent on pull-up jumpers, the second-best mark among players who have attempted at least 25.

In Game 1, Leonard was 8-for-12 (2-for-5 from 3-point range) on pull-up jumpers. In Game 2 he was 5-for-12 (1-for-6).

In Game 1, Leonard had 55 touches and passed the ball just 19 times. In Game 2, he had 68 touches, but passed it 38 times. The Sixers, with Simmons guarding him most of the time, did a better job of getting the ball out of Leonard’s hands.

J.J. Redick, a 3-point … stopper?

One reason that getting the ball out of Leonard’s hands has worked is that Green has shot 2-for-10 from 3-point range. Green missed two 3-point attempts that would have tied Game 2 in the final 1:01 of the fourth quarter.

The second of those was open, because Jimmy Butler rotated over to Leonard after Lowry recovered his own failed attempt at a nutmeg. The first was somewhat contested by J.J. Redick.

Redick has been the primary defender on Green, as he was on Joe Harris in the first round. Harris (47.4 percent) was the league’s leading 3-point shooter in the regular season and Green (45.5 percent) ranked second.

Combined, Harris (4-for-21) and Green have shot 19 percent from 3-point range against the Sixers in these playoffs. On possessions in which Redick has been their defender, they’re 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, having shot less often than they usually do, per Second Spectrum tracking.

Redick is one of the best in the league at moving without the ball to get open. While he can be picked on defensively in isolations or pick-and-rolls, he’s done a great job off the ball of keeping his fellow shooters from getting open.

* * *

John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.