The Toronto Raptors’ first-round matchup with the 76ers is expected to be one of the tightest opening series across the entire NBA. The hard-nosed defense of Toronto appeared ready for the challenge against a Sixers team that has not met expectations in the second half of the season. Despite this, the Sixers cruised to a dominant 131-11 victory in Game 1.


The Sixers certainly made a statement in the opening game. It will now be up to the Raptors to roll with the punches and prepare to bounce back ahead of Game 2. It will be a struggle for the team as Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr, and Thad Young are all doubtful for the matchup. The Raptors must prepare to make adjustments without these key players if they hope to extend their season.

Raptors Predictions for Game 2 vs Sixers

3. Raptors Force 10+ Turnovers

One of the biggest reasons for hope heading into the series was the impressive Raptors defense. With 11 of their 17 rostered players between the heights of 6’7 and 6’9, the Raptors make use of this length to wreak havoc. During the regular season, Toronto averaged 15.9 forced turnovers per game due to their great number of active defenders with impressive length.

If they’re looking for success, their defensive effort has to change in Game 2. The Sixers had no trouble with the Raptors swarming defense in the series opener.  Joel Embiid deserves a lot of credit for making the right reads out of the double and triple teams that were sent his way, but the Raptors’ defense was ineffective as a whole. Even so, the Raptors have a massive length and athletic advantage at just about every other matchup on the floor and need to capitalize on this.

On Saturday, the Sixers turned the ball over just three times. This tied for the second-fewest turnovers in a playoff game one since the stat began being tracked in 1970-71. For the Raptors to play themselves back into the series, the effort has to start on the defensive end. This has been the key to the Raptors’ success all season and they must get back to it. It appears a conscious effort by Philadelphia to take care of the ball, but the Raptors must shoot for double-digit turnovers forced in Game 2.

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2. Fred VanVleet Scores 25+

Game 1 was a frustrating performance for Fred VanVleet. He had a somewhat effective game on paper by ending with 18 points, six assists, and knocking down three triples, but the 6’1 guard struggled to truly find his stride. VanVleet fouled out with 9:06 left to play and picked up a technical foul on his way out for good measure.

For the Raptors to get going here, Fred VanVleet must contain his frustration and get back to the dynamic style of play that has become his norm. The first-time All-Star averaged 20.3 points per game this season and is typically a key part of their offensive playbook. The Raptors must do a better job using VanVleet off the ball and running sets to create open looks for him. Look for the Wichita State product to get back to playing his normal composed game in Game 2 and have the production to match it.

1. Raptors will Outscore Sixers in Transition

While the defensive performance was disappointing for the Raptors, the lack of effectiveness in transition was even more surprising. This was an area circled by both teams heading into the series. For the Raptors, they ranked third in the NBA in fastbreak points this season while the Sixers were 28th in transition defense. Despite this, the Sixers outscored the Raptors 29-10 in the fastbreak in Game 1.

This is certainly tied to the defensive effort, but scoring points in transition will make everything easier for Toronto. The team sometimes lacks shot creation in the half-court and finding easy points on the break will help jump-start the offense. The Raptors will need others to step up as Scottie Barnes typically leads the team in this area. Even with his absence, this should be an area Toronto focuses on and should find success.

Game 1 went about as poorly as it could have gone for the Raptors. Doc Rivers created an effective plan to neutralize what the team does best and the game was held in full control by Philadelphia. It is up to the Raptors to get back to the brand of basketball that they are best at if they want to secure a win and extend the series into the bloodbath it is expected to be.