|76ers aim to halt 13-game skid in Toronto|
The Philadelphia 76ers hope their different look will change a trend when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night for the opener of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Toronto is 21-3 against Philadelphia since the start of the 2013-14 season, the most total wins against the 76ers by an opponent over the past five years. The Raptors have won 13 straight at home over the 76ers.
The Sixers' only win in four games against the Raptors this season came when Kawhi Leonard did not play for Toronto on Dec. 22 at Philadelphia. The 76ers won 126-101.
The teams have not met since Feb. 5 -- a 119-107 win for Toronto in Philadelphia -- and both have different looks going into the playoff series. The 76ers' additions have included Tobias Harris on Feb. 6 and Jimmy Butler in November, which has changed their style of play.
The Raptors added Marc Gasol on in a trade Feb. 7 and that has changed them as well.
Both teams enter the second round having won their first-round series in five games, Toronto over the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia over the Brooklyn Nets.
"It kind of feels like the first time we're meeting them," Raptors forward Pascal Siakam said. "We can take away a lot from the other games, but they have so many new faces, different guys, they do different things, so it's hard to focus on 'Well, this is what happened last time.'"
In the Sixers' three losses to Toronto during the regular season, they averaged 20.7 turnovers, including 18 in that Feb. 5 loss. In their one win over Toronto, they turned the ball over just 13 times.
"You can certainly look at the roster turnover and not make much of the regular season," Sixers guard JJ Redick said. "But I think there's certain philosophies that we've got to be better at. The main one I think is, just take care of the basketball. They're long, athletic, and they play at times a swarming style of defense. You saw that at times during the Orlando series. We've got to be good with that. We've got to take care of the basketball."
The Sixers have improved in that area. In their first 54 games of the season, ending with that loss to the Raptors, their 15.7 turnovers per game were fourth-most in the NBA. In their final 28 games, they averaged 13, 14th-most in the league.
The 76ers did become prone to turnovers against the Nets, when they turned the ball over 16 or more times in three of the games.
"A different team than we've seen," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Guess we won't know if we'll solve them until the series is over, really. You go in with some ideas going. ... but you get a much clearer picture, obviously, after the first game."
The key for the 76ers will be trying to minimize Leonard, who is 13-0 against them between his former team, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Raptors.
Ben Simmons is expected to earn the assignment, but 76ers coach Brett Brown said there will be help.
"We have the ability to have multiple people guard Kawhi," Brown said. "For sure, (Simmons) will be on him. I think we have different candidates. We hope to show Kawhi some different looks."
Mike Scott, who was acquired with Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers, suffered a bruised heel during Game 5 against the Nets. According to the Sixers injury report, he also has plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Brown is preparing as if he will not have Scott. "If we do, it's a blessing," Brown said.
Toronto will be without reserve forward OG Anunoby as he remains out indefinitely after an emergency appendectomy on April 11.
--Field Level Media