Raptors carry edge heading into Game 1 against 76ers

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Here are five keys for the Toronto Raptors to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in their second round matchup.

Philadelphia will start the series short-handed.

Since this series has the potential to go to seven games when looking at the intensity surrounding these two teams, Philadelphia needs to do whatever it takes to make an early statement to avoid falling early in this series to Toronto. That's not breaking news, but it's a point being drilled into the Sixers as the team is being pelted with questions about the All-Star forward.

"We have a team that is slowly coming together", Brown said.

In the Sixers lone win over Toronto, Leonard was out with an injury. He's also an unrestricted free agent after this year and there has been speculation he'd be interested in moving back to his native California. Leonard has been a playoff beast for the Raptors, as has Marc Gasol, acquired from Memphis at the trade deadline.

"We're a young, talented group, but you've also got to bring in a really, really talented player or players", veteran forward DeMarre Carroll said.

"That's a team that causes a lot of turnovers", said Embiid.

"And the best thing about that was, I think he found out that the harder he played defence, the harder he was playing offence as well, with more force". "I don't think we're sitting here satisfied". Then there's James Ennis behind Jimmy Butler and Jonathon Simmons behind Tobias Harris and at the guard position you have T.J. McConnell and Furkan Korkmaz. After dropping Game 1 of their first-round series at home to Brooklyn, the Sixers made the necessary adjustments and won the next four games.

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When the Toronto Raptors pulled the trigger on a couple of big deals, landing the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, and Danny Green, they were thinking ahead to possible playoff matchups with teams like the Philadelphia 76ers.

It was one thing for Philadelphia to push its way past Brooklyn - especially considering the Nets' lack of size inside allowed Embiid to absolutely dominate despite ongoing knee issues that limited both his movement and conditioning.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson congratulates the Sixers' Brett Brown following a hard-fought but ultimately one-sided playoff series that ended Brooklyn's impressive turnaround season. The Sixers won the series in five games. And so you have Jo, you don't.

But as Butler hinted, friendship isn't a factor when you're on opposite sides. "These guys have been great on trying to form a team".

But the 76ers have dropped 13 straight games at Scotiabank Arena - their last road win in Toronto came in November 2012.

Speaking of Leonard, he'll have to continue producing at the ridiculously-efficient rate he has been so far in these playoffs if the Raptors plan to overwhelm the Sixers in this series like they did against Orlando. In two meetings this season when Gasol was with Memphis, Embiid had a awful 40.4 true shooting percentage and averaged 14.5 points and 15 rebounds a game (he averaged 27.5 points per game for the season).

Fred VanVleet was asked on Friday if he was surprised by the way Leonard had raised his game against Orlando, and he said no, he has seen the kind of player he is up close for a while now.

Whatever Brown and Nick Nurse do with them during the rest of the game, they will be matched up in the dying seconds. But knock on wood", Butler said, as he stomped his foot on the hardwood floor of Philadelphia's practice gym for emphasis, "I don't want this to happen, but what if we lose the next one? "Usually, you have to have the opportunity go present itself, but somehow I think he finds ways to make big plays at the defensive end - whether it's just with pressure or shooting the gap or deflecting a ball or just going and taking it from somebody".

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