Tier 3: Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, Sixers
This may be tier 3, but the quality from tier 2 and tier 3 is almost the same. The two teams the Raptors should want to avoid here are the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers are not a threat to the Toronto Raptors whatsoever — the Raptors won season series 3-1 and the only loss was without Siakam in overtime. The Thunder should also not pose a threat but they do have Chris Paul, someone no team should underestimate.
The Houston Rockets are a very weird team to evaluate. Strangely enough, the Toronto Raptors are not too far off from how the Rockets play. Of course, no one will truly be close to how the Rockets play, the Toronto Raptors shot selection is the second most efficient in the league, behind the Rockets, per Cleaning The Glass.
The Raptors take the third least mid-range shots and the fifth most threes in the league. So the battle between these two teams would seem like the typical saying of “it’s a make or miss league.”
Another reason to be afraid of the Rockets is because of the renaissance of Russell Westbrook, who is playing his best basketball ever. This is the first season since the 2011-2012 season that Westbrook has shot so little threes. He has never been proficient in this area, and the Rockets letting him operate with an open floor is a horrifying thought for the Toronto Raptors.
Oh. They also have the best scorer in the NBA’s history, James Harden. So yea, the Rockets are a tricky matchup for anyone.
We all know the Toronto Raptors always do well against the Philadelphia 76ers. Marc Gasol knows how to handle Embiid, and the rest of the team knows how to clog the paint against Simmons. But still, a team with this much talent should never be written off.
Joel Embiid is in his prime and is one of the best centers we’ve gotten in years. Ben Simmons is a LeBron James lite player who is a jump shot away from being a top ten player in the league. We also can’t forget they have Al Horford, Tobias Harris, and especially Shake Milton.
The problem for the Raptors is that their star power is better, and so is their depth. The Toronto Raptors win are purely off Nick Nurse outcoaching Brett Brown each and every time. And also Marc Gasol knowing every move Embiid is going to do. But Gasol has gone through many injuries this year and who knows if he’ll be the same.
Sometimes talent alone beats a good team, no matter how good the infrastructure is for the Raptors.
The OKC Thunder win against the Raptors came off the lack bucket of the game. Siakam was also not part of that game (as you can see Siakam is very important to Raptors) and they surely would’ve won with him. The second game they won pretty easily and were always in control.
Much like Utah Jazz situation, the center is from the 1990s and the rest of the OKC team are very small. They won’t have what it takes to shut down a player like Siakam. I’d say they match up nicely, but at the same time wouldn’t be surprised if they lose one of two games because of Chris Paul Heroics.
Toronto Raptors are just a way better version of the Indiana Pacers.