The Toronto Raptors might have come into the postseason with plenty of optimism surrounding their chances to take down the Philadelphia 76ers, but the first two games of their playoff series have been as disastrous as possible. Injuries and poor play have been the name of the game so far.
While the Raptors mounted a nice comeback at the end of Game 2, it’s hard to spin two straight losses by a combined 35 points as anything short of a massive disappointment. The Raptors have a very quirky roster, but that group isn’t getting the desired results when it comes to stopping Joel Embiid and James Harden.
To make matters worse, Scottie Barnes’ availability in the rest of the series is in doubt due to his ankle injury. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are spectacular, but they alone can’t lead Toronto to wins in four of their next five games against one of the best teams in the East.
Philadelphia has quickly exposed several inconvenient truths about this roster that could prevent the Raptors from doing a ton of damage against their division rivals in this series. These flaws might prevent Toronto from anything more than one or two wins in this series.
3 Toronto Raptors issues the Philadelphia 76ers have exposed.
3. Issues with defending quicker guards
Maxey introduced himself to the larger basketball media landscape as someone who can be a leading member of a playoff team, as his 38-point outburst was followed up by a 23-point night on 8-11 shooting. Players like Maxey have been a thorn in Toronto’s side.
The list of players who have averaged 23 or more points per game against Toronto this season features plenty of more explosive, agile guards. De’Aaron Fox (23.0), Trae Young (29.7) and Kevin Porter Jr. (32.5) have been a handful for the Raptors this season, and Maxey has officially added his name to that list of Raptor killers.
The Toronto Raptors have had issues with the 76ers guards.
Even though Harden isn’t scoring 40 points a night as he did in Houston, he is still one of the best rebounding guards and passers in the league. He’s firmly settled into a tertiary scoring role with Maxey and Embiid taking primary ones, and that has befuddled the Raptors.
Barring a major adjustment from Nick Nurse, Toronto is not going to solve this issue in one series. They made their bed as far as roster construction is concerned, and now it’s time to lie in it. However, there is a path to taking away some of Maxey’s scoring if he is defended correctly.