NBA Playoffs: Philadelphia 76ers Vs Toronto Raptors- Game 4 Predictions & Game 3 Highlights
With the 76ers taking a 2 -1 lead in the series, the action stays at the Barclays Centre, Philadelphia for game 4 of the eastern conference semifinals.
When: 6th April, 1 AM IST
Both teams started the game off well, shooting a high percentage from the field. Joel Embiid was aggressive right from the get-go, ending the first quarter with 9 points and a block on Kawhi. Danny Green also had a great start knocking down all 3 of his 3-point attempts.
The Sixers extended their slender lead in the second quarter and were up 11 points by half time. Embiid continued in his aggressive vein, putting up another 9 points and blocking Kawhi yet again. Butler and Harris had solid halves with 11 points each. Kawhi and Siakam were the only Raptors in double digits with 17 and 14 respectively and 2 blocks apiece. The score was 64 - 53 going into the third quarter.
The Raptors cut into the lead in the third and made it an 8 point game. The Sixers started the final quarter with a 21 - 3 run taking the game away from Toronto. Embiid was at his best in this stretch. He blocked fellow Cameroonian Pascal Siakam in consecutive plays and later threw down a vicious windmill dunk which got the crowd on its feet. The game was practically over at this point with the Sixers leading by 26 and 5:31 left on the clock. Both teams ended the game with the bench playing extended minutes.
After a stretch of disappointing performances in this series, Joel Embiid came good with a terrific performance. He had 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. All of Philly's starters scored in the double digits and Jimmy Butler had another great performance with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals.
Kawhi Leonards hot streak continues with him scoring 33 points at 59% efficiency. The only other Raptors to score in double digits were Siakam and Green. Their bench woes continue as they only scored 15 points, 9 of which came in the 4th quarter after the game was decided.
The Raptors were dominated both on the glass(42 - 55) and in the paint(36 - 52). Philly had a great night shooting it from 3-point range, making 10 of their 23 shots. Toronto, on the other hand, shot a paltry 7 - 27.
Score: Philly wins 116 - 95
Game 4 Prediction
Philly lineup: Tobias Harris (F), Jimmy Butler (F), Joel Embiid (C), Ben Simmons (PG), and JJ Redick (SG).
Toronto lineup: Pascal Siakam (F), Kawhi Leonard (F), Marc Gasol (C), Kyle Lowry (PG), and Danny Green (SG).
The Sixers blew out Toronto in game 3, defending home court and taking a 2 - 1 lead in the series. When the teams meet again on Monday, Philly will still have their loud fanbase behind them. Another loss would be akin to a deathblow for the Raptors who would then need to win 3 of the next 4 matches.
The best thing about game three for the Sixers was the health of Joel Embiid. Apart from putting up a great performance, his knee looked better than it has all through this playoff run. The rest of the starters too chipped in and look to be in good touch. James Ennis and Greg Monroe have been solid backups and the return of Mike Scott has bolstered their bench. They must continue to play good defence and dominate the glass like they have all season. They must play with the same intensity and look to take a commanding 3 - 1 lead.
The biggest problem for the Raptors has been their over reliance on Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, particularly as it relates to scoring.
Kyle Lowry is a live wire on defence but is very inconsistent when it comes to scoring. In 4 of the 8 matches this post-season, he has failed to get into double digits. That simply isn't good enough from the point guard on a team with hopes of making it to the finals.
Former Defensive Player of The Year Marc Gasol has proved he is still an elite defender, keeping Joel Embiid quite for the better part of three games. Having extensive playoff experience and a career playoff average of 17.2 ppg, he needs to find a way to give his team more than his current 7 points a game.
Despite big names like Serge Ibaka, the Toronto bench has been a disaster. At 21.4 ppg they rank dead last among the teams in the playoffs. If they hope to beat a Philly side that is now firing on all cylinders they need to put up a better show. They could consider giving some playing time to Jeremy Lin for a boost on the offensive end.
With their backs against the wall, facing the possibility of going 3 - 1 down in a series that they were favoured to win, the Raptors will respond. Kawhi Leonard will put up yet another great performance and with some help from the others, they should win game 4 and tie the series 2 - 2.