Game 1 Preview: Raptors vs Sixers
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
Philadelphia 76ers (0-0) @ Toronto Raptors (0-0)
When: Saturday, April 27th, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
- Injury report: For the Raptors, OG Anunoby (appendectomy), and Jordan Loyd (coach’s decision) are out. Chris Boucher (back spasms) is listed as questionable. For the Sixers, Mike Scott (bruised heel and plantar fasciitis) is listed as out.
- Round 2: The Raptors will kick off their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. These two teams last met in the postseason during the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Sixers winning in seven games. Toronto enters Game 1 having won a franchise-record four straight playoff games, closing out the Orlando Magic in five games. Games 1 and 2 will be played in Toronto on Saturday and Monday before the series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.
- Recent history: Toronto enters its second-round series against the Sixers after defeating the Orlando Magic 4-1 in the first round. Philadelphia is in Toronto after defeating the Brooklyn Nets in five games as well. Like Toronto, the Sixers dropped Game 1 of their first-round series at home. The Raptors were 3-1 against the Sixers during the regular-season series, winning both games at home and one of two on the road. The most recent meeting between the two teams was on Feb. 5, where the Raptors recorded a 119-107 victory in Philadelphia behind a 24-point performance from Kawhi Leonard who shot just 3-for-11 from the floor, but 16-for-17 from the free-throw line. Serge Ibaka also added a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double. The Sixers were led by a 37-point, 13-rebound performance from Joel Embiid in the loss.
- Leonard time: Kawhi Leonard has a perfect 13-0 record against the Sixers in his NBA career. He is coming off a 27-point performance in Game 5 against the Magic, shooting 8-for-11 from the floor and a perfect 5-for-5 from the three-point line. For all of the offensive success he has had in round one, he was just as effective on the defensive end of the floor. After spending a season playing alongside Leonard for the first time in his career, Kyle Lowry spoke about watching Leonard’s defensive impact on the game up close. “I knew he was good, but seeing him every day and every game, what he can do defensively is crazy,” Lowry said. “It’s pretty cool.”
- New look: Though the Raptors and Sixers played each other four times during the regular season, both teams had mid-season trades that significantly altered their rosters. While the Raptors bought in Marc Gasol, Patrick McCaw and Jeremy Lin, parting ways with Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles, Delon Wright and Greg Monroe. The Sixers acquired Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and Landry Shamet. “It will definitely be different, so it kind of feels like the first time we’re meeting them again,” Pascal Siakam said. “Some things will be the same, but there are going to be a lot of changes too.”
- Home court: Thanks to their 58-24 record in the regular season beating Philadelphia’s 51-31 record, the Raptors will again have homecourt advantage for the second round. “That's what you play the regular season for,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. Though Nurse acknowledged that his team has performed well on the road this season, nothing feels quite like home. “Give me a choice and I'll play here at home any day of the week,” Nurse said. Toronto’s head coach isn't the only one fond of home cooking and Toronto's home fans. “I still think we've got the best fans in the league,” Fred VanVleet said. “They've shown that each time, each night that we play, from standing outside to even showing up on the road, and then obviously at home in the arena. We've got a really good home court. It's our job to go out there and protect that and try to use that as best we can.”