TORONTO - Tobias Harris said it best after Sunday's practice at Scotiabank Arena: "The beauty of the playoffs is how you make an adjustment and how you come back from game to game and to be locked in and focused to win the game."
Let's take a look at some of those much-needed adjustments for Game 2.
You've heard Brett Brown say it hundreds of times by now: the pass is king. This becomes even more true when you have an elite defensive team like the Toronto Raptors that can so easily disrupt the Sixers' half-court offense, especially when you're not moving the ball.
It's not that the Sixers didn't pass the ball (they did, 319 times, and finished with 23 assists), but it is about continuing to swing it side to side with a purpose and being patient enough to execute second and third options to disrupt the Raptors' defense. Taking higher percentage shots, which in theory should lead to fewer opportunities in transition for Toronto.
Defending Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam
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Leonard and Siakam combined for 74 points on nearly 74 percent shooting In Game 1. Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler held the majority of the defensive assignment (and Tobias Harris had a lesser share) on Leonard, who finished with 45 points on 16 for 23 shooting.
After the game, there was a lot of talk about help defense and whether there would be an adjustment in Game 2. Simmons said he would've liked to have seen more help. The counter to that, and something Brown has expressed, is that the Raptors have been the best three-point shooting team in the NBA since adding Marc Gasol.
Whatever specific defensive adjustments the Sixers end up making - and I would expect to see more of Simmons on Leonard than we saw in Game 1 - Leonard and Siakam have to see more of a crowd in Game 2. And as for Siakam, make him more of a perimeter-type player, rather than allowing him to get going in transition.
Embiid was held to just three points on 1 of 8 shooting in the 29 possessions he was guarded by Gasol, and shot 4 for 9 with 13 points in the 26 possessions he was guarded by Serge Ibaka, per NBA Advanced Stats.
We knew going into this matchup that Gasol, the 2012-13 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was one of the few players in the NBA with the ability to neutralize Embiid's dominance, and we saw it in Game 1. Just look at how far Embiid was receiving the ball from the basket, or how much he had to work for any inch of ground he tried to gain, or how Gasol kept him from getting to the line.
Brown says there are ways that he can help Embiid - he offered up generalities about getting Embiid into the post quicker and the spacing behind Embiid being better - but as Embiid told me after Game 1, "Their two best players showed up. I didn't ... I have to do a better job."
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