‘Desperate' Sixers Know They're Underdogs as Game 2 Vs. Raptors Looms

TORONTO - In the history of the NBA, only 20 teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit in a seven-game series.

That should put the Sixers' task Monday night in Game 2 in perspective. This is a must-win game in a place they've lost 14 consecutive times against a player that has tormented them.

They have to slow down Kawhi Leonard and running mate Pascal Siakam. They need to overcome their struggles on offense and get Joel Embiid going. They need more from Jimmy Butler and for someone off the bench to step up.

But most importantly, they need to be hungry.

"We're very desperate," James Ennis said. "We're desperate for a win. We'll do whatever it takes."

The odds haven't been in the Sixers' favor since this series was set. They started as underdogs and became even bigger ones after dropping Game 1. 

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Still, they have an opportunity to steal a game at Scotiabank Arena and take home-court advantage away from the Raptors.

While they may be desperate for a win, they're not ready to panic.

"We want to try to steal one on the road, get back to the crib 1-1," Jimmy Butler said. "We'll go back and look at the film [from Game 1] and talk about the scouting, but yeah, we want to win. We don't want to go down 0-2. We didn't want to go down 0-1. That's how the game is sometimes. We'll be OK."

Butler needs to be more than OK for the Sixers to have a chance in this series. He wasn't great on either end Saturday night, going just 4 of 12 and failing to slow down Leonard, who was 5 of 6 when guarded by Butler.

A common thing for Butler is to take chances defensively. He's normally good at anticipating plays and cheating off his man to create havoc. That wasn't the case against a disciplined Raptors team.

Brett Brown was in Butler's ear about it after reviewing the film from Game 1.

"You just have to stay in front of them. Not gamble, like I seem to do," Butler said. "Coach got on me about that."

Are you still going to gamble?

"I am."

Before you freak out and try to make it into a mutiny, Brown acknowledged a few minutes later that he doesn't have an issue with Butler taking chances. He just wants to make sure he's choosing his spots wisely.

"I think he gets it right more than he doesn't," Brown said. "We experienced this with Manu [Ginobli with the Spurs]. I don't want our guys playing afraid, you've heard me say that. The balance of making a gamble or a read that you think is right on your doorstep, I encourage that. At times, if he would go way out of his way to make a rogue play, it's at times punishing."

Say what you want about Butler, "playing afraid" doesn't seem like something you have to worry about. Give him credit for trying to dictate the action, something the Sixers couldn't do as a team Saturday night.

Toronto was clearly the aggressor in Game 1. The Raptors took it to the Sixers from pretty much the opening tip.

It didn't come as much of a surprise to most. The national - and apparently local - media doesn't seem to like the Sixers' odds. 

And the team knows it.

"There's a reality that we understand, that nobody really gives us a chance," Brown said. "[A member of the PR staff] gave me an ESPN article where two out of 20 thought that the Sixers could win. Our local writers, zero of six thought we could win. We understand that. It's not anything like that influences us, it in fact in many ways motivates us."

Brown stopped short of saying "no one likes us, we don't care" or that "hungry dogs run faster," but a little us-against-the-world attitude couldn't hurt a desperate team.

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