By Sally Fahey
Too bad the Sixers couldn’t have lured free agent Kawhi Leonard to Philly last summer.
Because if they had he wouldn’t have been able to crush them for 45 points in Game 1 last Saturday.
When asked about Sixers coach Brett Brown’s game plan, Joel Embiid said they should double Leonard the same way that the Raptors doubled him.
“Next time maybe just like they are doing to me and double-teaming me. Throw some double-teams and have a better game plan,” Embiid said after Game 1.
Philly has two of the best wing defenders in the league between Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, but neither was able to meet the challenge.
Leonard shot 5-of-6 for 16 points in 24 possessions against Butler, and he dropped another 10 points in 27 possessions on Simmons.
Leonard wasn’t the only issue as Pascal Siakam also had 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting. Again, the Sixers tried to handle Siakam without sending help, but Siakam physically overwhelmed both Butler and Tobias Harris around the basket.
Brown, however, appears hesitant to commit extra bodies. He has repeatedly pointed out that the Raptors are the best 3-point shooting team by percentage since the All-Star break, and they also have willing playmakers who will make the extra pass, meaning that it’s a pick-your-poison scenario. Instead, Brown believes that mixing up coverages will be the best way to combat the Raptors.
“They have the NBA’s best three-point shooting team … So you usually get back into a steady diet. You want to avoid maybe a steady diet of a similar look, these guys are that good, so if you can maybe keep people guessing and a little more off balance that’s where the adjustments have the most effectiveness,” Brown said after practice yesterday.