The final day of the regular season has delivered its verdict and the Sixers will face the Raptors in the first round of the Playoffs. A poster that will undoubtedly bring back some memories to Joel Embiid and his friends.
The Sixers still had a shot at the Eastern Conference podium tonight. For that, the plan was simple: it needed a victory against Detroit coupled with a loss for Boston in Memphis. Ime Udoka’s players having done the job against the Grizzlies F team, Philly finds himself stuck in fourth place and forced to face the Raptors. A scenario may have been planned in advance by Doc Rivers, who even took care to put James Harden and Joel Embiid in civilian clothes for this last confrontation of the season. A little rest which will probably not be a luxury since it is a rather tough opponent who is about to storm the Wells Fargo Center. Toronto – Philadelphia is an Atlantic Division duel, not a derby but a match that still has a certain symbolism for both teams. How can we forget that famous Kawhi Leonard shot in 2019 that bounces off the circle before going to shatter Philadelphia’s dreams and a Joel Embiid who couldn’t hold back his tears. Three years later, it might be time for revenge for the players in the City of Brotherly Love.
This match is also the promise of a fairly balanced duel. Although Philly has a small lead in the balance sheet (51-31 against 48-34), Toronto consoles itself with direct confrontations. The Ontario darlings have won three of four annual matchups against their Pennsylvania rivals. The Raptors even allowed themselves to win twice in Jojo’s lair. From there to imagine Nick Nurse and his family regaining the advantage of the field after the first two games, there is only one step. Note that Matisse Thybulle will not be able to play in Canada because he is not vaccinated, an additional element to take into account. Finally, this Philly-Toronto is also this match within the match which will particularly interest the friends of Cameroon. Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, the two local prides who will engage in a big duel in the best of seven rounds. Of the few head-to-head matches this season, Spicy-P clearly does not have to look down on the Process (average over the three games played against each other: 30 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists for Siakam, 29 points, 11 rebounds for Embiid), but Jojo knows he can’t afford such a failure after the disappointment against the Hawks last year. The Raptors are warned, Joel is on a mission Larry O’Brien.
The Sixers probably expected to have to wrestle the Raptors in the first round of the Playoffs and they will be served. Advantage on the balance sheet for Philadelphia, advantage in confrontations for Toronto. Who to win the bet? Start of response within a week.
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