76ers Don’t Seem to Have an Answer for Kawhi Leonard
Another series results in another Game 1 loss for the Philadelphia 76ers 2019 NBA Playoff run. Two weeks ago, the Sixers kicked off the series with the Brooklyn Nets with a poor showing at home, which resulted in a disappointing loss. For the second round on Saturday, the Sixers ran into the same situation, except this time it was on the road against a much better team that absolutely belongs in the position they are in.
Heading into the second round matchup against the Toronto Raptors, everybody knew what to expect. However, knowing what to expect cannot help prepare a team for the wrath the Raptors' star player brings. Kawhi Leonard was gassed up by the Sixers' starters all week long heading into the series against Toronto. He's great, he's a beast, he's a star, he's a problem, but the Sixers made one thing clear - he's not unstoppable. Or so they thought that was the case at least.
As expected, Leonard racked up his points in the first outing. To no surprise, Kawhi dropped 45 points as he was shooting nearly 75-percent from the field all in a total of 38 minutes on the court. Was it a result of the Sixers playing lousy defense? Not exactly. Although Philadelphia did struggle on Saturday for the most part, Leonard was merely automatic. Even good defense on the Raptors' star resulted in points. On contested shots, Leonard was an impressive 11-for-17.
Do they have an answer for Kawhi? Sixers' guard Ben Simmons believes they need to send more help to guard Leonard. While Simmons' defense has been stellar in the postseason, it's clear that even with tight defense on Leonard, he can still get his shots off and put up nearly 50 points on a good night. Not to mention, Kawhi's supporting cast shot really well for the most part, too.
Leonard will shoot well throughout the series as expected, and he's going to get a good chunk of Toronto's points no matter what, but the Sixers need to be able to have an answer. The defense wasn't the main issue, rather it was the Sixers' inability to keep up on offense. Missed shots, turnovers, and unfortunate mistakes resulted in a 95-point showing on the road for the Sixers.
At this point, it's understood that having an answer for Kawhi is not going to help the Sixers that much. They need to be able to consistently drain their shots and be able to keep up in a shootout with the Raptors. If they can't, then they are in for a long series this time around. Philly will be looking to bounce back, as they stick around in Toronto for another game on Monday night.
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