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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' decisive Game 1 win over Philadelphia 76ers

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Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid [NBA Getty Images]

The Toronto Raptors handled the Philadelphia 76ers to take Game 1 at home by a score of 108-95.

The score doesn't do justice to how well the Raptors played, but it does give the 76ers some credit for never quitting despite all the bounces falling against them.

Toronto shot a ridiculously efficient 51.9% from the field, led by Kawhi Leonard's playoff career-high 45 points on 16-of-23 shooting from the field. Pascal Siakam's 29 points on a 12-for-15 shooting performance certainly didn't hurt their percentages either.

All five of the 76ers' starters scored in double-figures, but no individual player broke the 20-point mark, resulting in a struggle to keep up with Leonard's scoring pace.

For more on the Raptors' Game 1 win to take a 1-0 series lead, we have you covered with takeaways below...

A hot start for the Raptors

The Raptors looked like they had forgotten about their usual Game 1 woes with the way they got going in this one.

They posted a near-perfect first frame, shooting 16-for-22 (72.7%) from the field and 3-for-4 (75%) from long range while committing zero turnovers.

Toronto went on two separate big runs in the quarter, including a stretch where they converted 13 consecutive field goals.

Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam stole the show combining for 34 points, outscoring the 76ers' entire team (31 points) in the first. The Raptors' forwards each scored 17 points, both going 7-for-9 from the field to lead their team's red-hot start to the game.

The 76ers dodged a bullet trailing by just eight points, 39-31, going into the second quarter.

Toronto's forwards dominate

The first quarter was just the start of an entire game's worth of dominance from Leonard and Siakam.

Kawhi went into the break with a playoff career-high for points in a half with 27. Siakam went into halftime with just two missed shots, scoring 22 points on 11 attempts.

Although Philly was able to keep things relatively close for the majority of the game, they never found an answer to stopping Leonard and Siakam.

Leonard finished with a new playoff career-high of 45 points, going 16-for-23 from the field with 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Siakam concluded the game with 29 points on an even more efficient 12-for-15 clip from the field with seven boards and an assist.

The two forwards outscored the 76ers' starting forwards Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler by 50 (!) points, 74-24. In terms of plus-minus, Siakam and Leonard's combined plus-41 compared to Harris and Butler's minus-46 gives you another idea of just how much better the Raptors' duo played.

Philadelphia will have to go back to the drawing board on how to try and slow down Leonard if they'll have a chance in Game 2.

A tough night for Jimmy Butler

It was a tough night for Jimmy Butler in Game 1, recording just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Butler was held in check by a strong defensive performance from Kawhi Leonard, who cut off passing lanes and limited Butler's ability to get into the paint, with Butler also going 0-of-3 from the three-point line.

Defensively, he had the task of containing Leonard, who went off for 45 points, with the Raptors star finding his way to the rim with ease, using his length to get by Butler.

The Sixers will need Butler engaged on both ends from the jump and can ill-afford to let the Raptors get out to another fast start like today, which saw them score 39 points without committing a turnover.

Gasol's defence on Embiid

Joel Embiid's impact in Game 1 was neutralised by the Toronto frontline, recording 16 points in 29 minutes on 5-of-18 shooting, his lowest scoring game of the playoffs.

Facing the Raptors' duo of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, Embiid struggled to establish position in the post, with Gasol refusing to bite, playing a patient defensive game as he made Embiid work for his buckets.

Embiid, who has been struggling with a knee injury attempted just six free throws on the night, putting the Raptors bigs under minimal pressure, while they did a good job of picking Embiid up away from the basket.

Gasol, who has had success against Embiid in the past, finished with a team-high +29 and got it done on the offensive end as well, chipping in eight points and four assists, even throwing down a rare dunk, which sent the home crowd wild.

If the Sixers are going to have a chance in this series, they must get more assertiveness from Embiid, with his play setting the tone for his teammates.

Raptors solve Game 1 issues

Every time a Game 1 roles around, the Raptors are reminded of their struggles to start a series on the right foot.

They dropped Game 1 in the first round to the Orlando Magic but assured it wouldn't happen in this one, controlling the pace of the game from the get-go.

Ahead of this victory, the Raptors were 2-14 all-time in Game 1s - this was just their third Game 1 win in franchise history! They are now 2-9 at home in Game 1s.

Another interesting fact: two of the Raptors three Game 1 wins have come against the 76ers - they are 1-14 all-time in Game 1 against the rest of the league.

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