The Raptors maintaining home-court advantage

In the last night’s duel, the Raptors started with their backs against the wall. They had to win Game 4, otherwise it would have been very hard for them to comeback from a 3-1 deficit against a team like the Sixers. Toronto started the game strong, and even if it was a balanced match-up from the first quarter until the fourth, Kawhi Leonard was in control once again for his team. He had 39 PTS, 14 REB and 5 AST on 65% field-goal-percentage. In this series, he is averaging 38 PTS on 62% shooting, this being some historic numbers, as only Michael Jordan averaged once over 35 points on 60% shooting in one playoff series. Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant have never done it, and this says a lot about the elite-level of Kawhi Leonard, a level which tended to be forgotten when the regular season started. Also, in this series, Kawhi Leonard has 152 points in total, while the rest of the Raptors have 241 on 39% FG%. He is doing things that no other star has made in the Raptors whole history, all that in such a little time spent with the organization.



Kyle Lowry, though, needs to step up his game, because he wasn’t being himself in the past games, as he mentioned that. He is a very important factor in this process for the Raptors, not only for the moment, but further for the decision of Kawhi for staying or leaving Toronto in the off-season. Lowry played well last night and registered 14 PTS, 6 REB and 7 AST on 46,2% FG%, having an index of 11, the second highest after Marc Gasol, who had a 13 index on +/- last night. Since we brought Marc Gasol into discussion, we need to say that he is a huge part of the Raptors success. Nick Nurse was not using him at his full potential when he first arrived there, but slowly he made him comfortable with the system and that could be seen last night. He was scoring from mid-range, from 3-point land, off of pick-and-pops or by finding him open with a simple pass. Gasol finished the game with 16 PTS, 5 REB and 3 AST while shooting 53,8%.



The 76ers, on the other hand, seemed to be a little confused at times in defense, giving open lanes for driving lay-ups quite often. Jimmy Butler had a good night once again, scoring 29 PTS on 50% shooting. Unfortunately for him and the Sixers, the others didn’t live up the expectations. Tobias Harris had a terrible shooting night, scoring only 7 of his 23 shots, Ben Simmons put up 10 PTS and Joel Embiid 11. The fact that those two young players are not constant in their evolution is a big problem for Philadelphia now, because they lost the home-court advantage and the momentum turned on the Raptors side.

This can go far, and the fate of these franchises can be decided in a decisive game. A trip to the Finals for the Raptors could make Kawhi stay and sign a new contract with them. If they won’t reach them, the chances are high that he will leave. This situation fits well for the 76ers, too, as this edition of the playoffs will play a huge part in Jimmy Butler’s future with the organization.


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