2019 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
It’s here baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaby. It’s time for the Eastern Conference Finals. And this shit here, this shit here, promises to be the best in several years. I know “King Bron’s” no longer ruling the conference, but when the East’s juggernauts started adding more weight on the bell bar by filling out their rosters with elite role players, the “other” conference became this year’s most intriguing. Toronto and Philly kick it off today, and if you know like I know, it’s time to get comfortable, grab your vices and let Playoff ball consume you.
Why Toronto Wins: Matchups. Nobody matches up with the NBA’s best better than them boys from the 6. Marc Gasol has been the tits for T., sliding seamlessly into the Raptors’ starting lineup and doing what he does. He stifled All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic in the First Round, holding him to 11.2 points on a miserable 36.2 percent from the field, shored up the team’s defensive rebounding woes and has been an additional playmaker for a squad loaded with high-basketball IQ guys. He’s not going to stop all-world center Joel Embiid from eating, but he’ll at least hold his own enough to prevent the need for doubles, which sucks for anybody who can’t create their own shot -- cough, cough playoff J.J. Redick
.Unlike "baby" Brooklyn, Toronto possesses the strength and length to keep Ben Simmons from living in the paint. He's not going against Jared Dudley aka Tim Dunkin’ -- I swear they really look alike. No, there won't be a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in sight. He'll get his opportunity to showcase his merit against two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and the NBA’s Most Improved Freak, Pascal Siakam. Good luck to Philly head coach Brett Brown. The city loves winners, and you don’t scheme well enough to makeup for what's going on here.
Why Philly Wins: Winning in the playoffs comes down to who has the best shotmakers. Philly has that advantage here with Embiid and Jimmy Butler -- there’s a reason they call the boy “Jimmy G. Buckets.” When the game is on the line, you can expect Buckets to lull somebody to sleep on the right wing, stepback and send them to hell! I’m telling you, he loves that shit, and there’s honestly no way to defend a move like that once it’s been mastered.
With J.J. Redick, the 76ers can run Kyle Lowry out of effectiveness. Tire Lowry on defense by forcing him to chase after J.J. all game, and sheeesh boy, watch that jumper disappear. If Redick makes shots, Ben finds ways to be effective offensively, and Embiid, who continues to lumbers, can play in each game….dreams can come true, and Rocky will take his place atop the Art Museum steps and pound Yuenglings with Allen Iverson. Shit, I want to see it.
Who Wins: Toronto in six. The Raptors are too deep, and I don’t see Ben Simmons surviving a series against “The Claw.” This the big leagues. Godspeed.