Sixers Cite Main Areas of Focus in Series vs. Raptors

Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid

Getty Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers is guarded by Thaddeus Young #21, Malachi Flynn #22, Pascal Siakam #43, and Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors.

As we await the final results of the play-in tournament, the Philadelphia 76ers have close to a week to prepare for their upcoming first-round series with the Toronto Raptors. This extra time has allowed them to get some practices in, something that’s escaped them down the stretch with their rigorous schedule.

Since the All-Star break, the Sixers have been forced to intergrade James Harden on the fly. Having a whole week dedicated to just practice should do wonders as they try to smooth things out before the postseason.

Following practice, players and coaches have spoken to the media. When discussing the matchup with the Raptors, Doc Rivers mentioned one positive heading into the series. While Toronto’s roster makeup is unorthodox, the Sixers already know what they’re going to get when they take the floor.

“I guess the one good thing, if there is a good thing about playing Toronto, they are who they are. They’re long, they’re athletic and they don’t change much. They do change a lot of defenses and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s all about their length, their speed, their aggressiveness, and so you have to combat that.” According to USA Today.

Combating The Raptor’s Size

The biggest uphill battle for the Sixers in this series is their size disadvantage. Toronto’s abundance of size and length overwhelmed most of the league and caused problems for Philly during their meetings in the regular season. Because of their personnel, Tobias Harris cited rebounding as an area the team must emphasize in the first round.

“In the games that we have played them, obviously the offensive rebounding. Rebounding as a whole has been our weak spot in those games. We know they’re a team that presents a lot of length on the court especially defensively, so we went over today, running our stuff, and being consistent, and having that pace to how we play.”

In their four matchups this season, Toronto out-rebounded the Sixers by nearly seven. They also grabbed just over 14 offensive rebounds per game, compared to just seven for Philly. Given how valuable possessions are in the postseason, the Sixers cannot afford to give the Raptors extra chances.

Transition defense has also been a weak point for the Sixers, and it’s one they might have to give into against Toronto. It is going to take all five guys on the floor to keep the Raptors off the glass. Even if it means surrendering some fastbreak baskets, it’s a sacrifice they must be willing to make.

Defense Is The Key To Success

As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. The Sixers are a team that prides itself on the defensive end, and they will need to remain engaged on that end if they want to advance to the second round.

Since Matisse Thybulle cannot make the trip to Canada for games 3 and 4, the Sixers are going to need a collective effort to slow down guys like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Gary Trent Jr. Along with rebounding, Harris cited defense as another area of focus heading into this series.

“Defensively, we have to be at our best as well, but we know if we’re able to rebound and get out and run, and be at the pace we want to be at, we’ll be successful.” According to USA Today.

Taking down the Raptors is not going to be easy, but the Sixers should feel confident. If they continue to zero in on the areas mentioned, it should lead to a first-round victory.

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