The Toronto Raptors appear to be searching for solutions against the 76ers and one may have shown itself in the latter stages of their Game 2 loss.
AMIT MANN: We can pivot now to their offense and things that they could probably do better, is that I think we're going to see a lot more OG Anunoby in pick and roll situations-- as a rim runner on pick and rolls, as a popper. Because I think they need to get Joel Embiid away from the basket. And they're just not doing a good enough job of that.
Granted, no Gary Trent Jr. Is a problem there. Fred VanVleet being up and down-- he played every single second of the first half last night. And we're wondering, hey, why did he go 1 of 9 in the second quarter? Well, there you go.
But there isn't many options, right? Because you can't put in Dalano Banton because he's a rookie. And Malachi Flynn did get some minutes, although he didn't make a shot. But yeah, things that the Raptors could potentially do differently in Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena?
JACKSON FRANK: Yeah, I liked-- I did like them coming out of the gates in Game 2, running a lot more pick and roll. They recognized that Joel was going to be on OG. And they said, OK, we're going to force Joel-- like, is he going to defend VanVleet on the probe and the drive? Or is he going to go rotate back to OG on the top? And that gave him some issues. That's part of why the Raptors got off to a nice 13-2 or 13-4 start, I can't recall exactly what, but--
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
JACKSON FRANK: --just a nice little, sizable advantage to open the game. The issue was, like, VanVleet has to work so hard to create in those pick and rolls because he doesn't-- like, he just doesn't have that final gear that you maybe want, maybe like prime Lowry had. People compare them all the time. Lowry just had another extra gear in his prime getting downhill and stuff.
AMIT MANN: I missed him.
JACKSON FRANK: And so--
AMIT MANN: My goodness. Anyway--
JACKSON FRANK: Yeah, he should donate it to Fred, I think he could really use it. But I guess Kyle has his own--
AMIT MANN: Hey, man, he's taken a lot of things from Kyle Lowry, but yes, yes.
JACKSON FRANK: But that sort of thing, it was just so hard for him to create. And by the time they got to the second quarter, he'd worked so hard to keep the Raptors in front by 1 after one quarter that he just-- I mean, there was that play in the third quarter, I think, where he missed back-to-back 3's from like the exact same spot. And it was like--
AMIT MANN: Oh.
JACKSON FRANK: --it was like, ah, you couldn't tell if his legs-- and it was kind of a time where the game was teetering. Would it be close or not, and--
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
JACKSON FRANK: --I was like, oh, man, I feel for Raptors fans there. Like, that was probably a bit of a frustrating 20 seconds. But I liked that. I think-- you know, I wonder with like, if you're going to go to more OG, what's stopping the Sixers from just throwing Joel on OG?
AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.
JACKSON FRANK: They kind of did that late. And I think Joel stopped him on one drive. And OG, as good as he was with some of his self-creation, I don't know how much of that is replicable. He hit some pretty tough step-backs, hit a deep 3 late, like at one point when they were kind of mounting a little late run. So I'm not saying they shouldn't try to go more OG, I think especially using him as a roller, like you said, and just kind of seeing what can happen there makes sense.
But I wouldn't-- you're not saying this either, but I wouldn't bank on him going 10 of 14 again and hitting some of the shots he did.
AMIT MANN: Sure.
JACKSON FRANK: And so-- I mean, that's part of the mastery of Joel, is like, in this matchup especially, like, you can just put him on whichever kind of good but flawed creation wing the Raptors are going to lean into more, you know? So obviously, Pascal is this team's best creator, or at least has been in the last couple of months especially. So not saying he and OG are on the same plane there, but just the point being is you can move Joel around in these matchups and really kind of force Toronto's hand. And we'll see, but yeah, I like that as a counter.
I wonder, like-- what can they do to force more turnovers? Because they were getting out in transition and running early in that game, and getting some good stuff. Like, what can they do there? I don't have a great answer. But I think it's got to be that.
It's more pick and rolls. Like, can someone beyond Fred emerge as someone you want to use in pick and rolls? Like, do you see-- like, do you use Pascal more? Like, it seems like so much of Pascal's stuff has been in this iso. And he's struggling to create against Tobias.
Like, put Tobias on ball. Tobias has been great, and great on both ends. I'm not trying to-- like, he still struggles navigating screens. So like, you are playing into his and the Philadelphia 76ers' hands when you just say, OK, Pascal, create an iso.
Like, no, throw him in a ball screen. Use Fred as a screener. And I guess I get the-- I guess not, maybe not, but then see, like, can you attack Maxey? Like, he had, Pascal, a nice play, I think in the second quarter or third quarter--
AMIT MANN: Yeah, he had a couple that worked out, yeah.
JACKSON FRANK: I can imagine, yeah, because your force a switch-- like, do more of that. Don't put all the burden on Pascal to create against Tobias when Tobias has been pretty solid in these two games against him, using his hands for strips, and his physicality--
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
JACKSON FRANK: --takes away airspace. So make it easier on your guys and set more screens. And I know that's kind of been a thing with Nurse and the Raptors, you know, that fans want maybe more ball screens and less iso and whatnot. And so--
AMIT MANN: Oh, you've been paying attention to Raptors Twitter, haven't you?
JACKSON FRANK: Yeah, I have.
AMIT MANN: Now you have. [LAUGHS]
JACKSON FRANK: But-- and so many of the people do great work, it's easy to follow. But--
AMIT MANN: Sure.
JACKSON FRANK: --but yeah, those are the things that I would do, is I would just get more ball screens, force Tobias in more actions, iso. Iso is Tobias's best on-ball strength defensively. So you force him through a screen, he's a lot less adept. So that's what I would do.
And yeah, I agree about the OG. See what you can do with him as a roller, popper, attacking off the catch.
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
JACKSON FRANK: But I wouldn't overindulge on him as an iso creator, which is what they did, I think, a little too much at times in Game 2. But it generally worked because OG really had it going. But if he doesn't have it going in that sense in Game 3, don't just kind of delude yourself into thinking Game 2 OG is the norm if he's just off at that point.
AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm. Yeah, he's a tricky one. Because although it looks awkward, sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't. I mean, he had a post up on Harden. He had-- he blew by Tobias Harris late in the game. But granted, that's kind of in garbage time. But he had a shot over Danny Green.
So he's had his moments this season, and especially-- I mean, we haven't seen him healthy for quite some time. But you know, when the season started, Pascal was out, he was having-- you know, he was averaging 22 points a game, or 21 or so. So he's got the ability.
It's just is he going to be able to do it in high-pressure situations? And he also had a few turnovers when he was more of the primary ball handler. And that's still something that he's working to develop.
But I would love to see him at least work some high-low. Like, do more Pascal and OG Anunoby, I guess, actions because those are your two options right now to at least stay to your identity to some degree. And if Joel Embiid is going to be guarding one of them, well, he can't guard both of them, so--