The Raptors have just tied up the series with the 76ers behind another unbelievable performance from Kawhi Leonard, but he has been the only Raptor who has shown up for this series. Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Vleet seem to have had their powers stolen by the Monstars. Playoff Kyle Lowry is out in full force and the rest of the Raptors team has been seemingly non-existent.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way
During the regular season, the Raptors were looked at as one of the deeper teams in the NBA which is crucial come playoff time. Losing Delon Wright and Jonas Valanciunas in the Marc Gasol trade obviously weakened the depth and OG Anunoby going down to an emergency appendectomy didn’t help the situation at all.
Even with the losses of these players, Raptors fans still felt confident in a second unit led by Fred Van Vleet and Serge Ibaka. Especially in this second round against a 76ers team that was thought to have been top heavy.
The exact opposite has happened in this series. The 76ers bench has outscored the Raptors bench 84-42 over these first 4 games. The main contributors remaining off the bench for Toronto (Ibaka, Van Vleet, and Powell) have been non-existent.
Besides Ibaka showing a little sign of life in Game Four with 12 points, none of the aforementioned players has scored more than seven points in a game this series. Steady Freddy has not been steady at all, with four points over these four games. Four points.
Norman Powell has shown to be a solid contributor in previous playoff series but can’t seem to find his rhythm. Jeremy Lin was thought to have been good depth signing for the Raptors but has seen 2 minutes of action all series.
It’s even more frustrating when looking at the lesser-known players on the 76ers bench that are answering the call. James Ennis is far from being a household name but he has left his mark on this series so far.
Kawhi Leonard is having an incredible and historic series. Averaging 38 PPG and nine RPG on 61% shooting is something that has never been done before. He is single-handedly keeping the Raptors in this series. Leonard has arguably been the best player in the playoffs with only Kevin Durant as his direct competition.
So what should Nick Nurse and the Raptors do? They are already running a very tight rotation with the starters logging heavy minutes. Do they give more minutes to their main bench players in an attempt to break them out of this slump?
Or do they take a chance on their established veterans in Jeremy Lin and Jodie Meeks and see if they can provide more of a spark? Regardless of what decision is made Kawhi needs help.
The 76ers are stacked and Leonard needs help from Siakam, Lowry and the once notorious “Bench Mob”. If someone else can’t step up and Kawhi has an off game, the Raptors playoff run could end abruptly and so could the Kawhi Leonard era in Toronto.
Game Five tips-off Tuesday, May 7th @ 8:00 pm EST at Scotiabank Arena.
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