Two Eastern Conference powerhouses will collide on Saturday night, as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors meet for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals! After Kevin Durant’s 50 point outburst last night, all but one First Round series is finished. We’re just about a month away from the Finals, who will be the new Kings of the East with Cleveland no longer relevant? Perhaps it will be one of the two teams playing here tonight!
 Philadelphia 76ers (0-0) @  Toronto Raptors (0-0)
The Eastern Conference has never looked so competitive in the last decade than this year. That was thanks to a generational talent, but he’s now playing in Los Angeles and didn’t even participate in this year’s playoffs. The top 4 seeds from the East have moved on, and quite honestly any one of them could make it to the Finals. This series between Philadelphia and Toronto will be one of the best so far this year!
After losing Game 1 at home to Brooklyn, the 76ers made it quite clear that they were the better team in the series, proceeding to win the next 4 games in a row to close out in Game 5. The 76ers didn’t play the greatest defense, but they were certainly scintillating on offense. Their star players did alright, but Embiid was the only real consistent performer. Considering he is still nursing a bad knee, that might hurt them here in the second round.
- Star Averages in First Round: Joel Embiid – 24.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks. Tobias Harris – 17.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists. Jimmy Butler – 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.0 steals. Ben Simmons – 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists.
- Even though they did lose Game 1 to Brooklyn, the rest of the series wasn’t really close. In Games 2-5, Philly averaged a scorching 127.5 points to just 111.5 from Brooklyn.
- In the First Round, Philadelphia was a great cover team, as they covered the point spread in 4 of their 5 games, only failing to do so in their Game 1 loss.
Even though the Raptors lost the first game, there was no question that they deserved to be a 2nd seed this year. Both Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam dominated, both offensively and defensively. It isn’t the one-two-punch many Raptors fans had in mind at the start of the year, but it is actually better than anything Lowry could’ve done. The Raptors win their games off of their stellar defense, something that should be to their benefit in Game 1 here tonight.
- Star Averages in First Round: Kawhi Leonard – 27.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists. Pascal Siakam – 22.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists. Kyle Lowry – 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 2.0 steals.
- The Raptors put on a defensive clinic after Game 1, holding the magic to less than 100 points every game after. In games 2-5, the Raptors averaged only 107.8 points, but they held the Magic to an astounding 89 points. Wow.
- In the First Round, the Raptors were a decent cover team, covering the point spread in only 3 of their 5 games.
Pick: Toronto Raptors -6.5
While the 76ers stars played fairly well in the last round, Kawhi Leonard was an animal and showed why he almost beat the Warriors by himself before Zaza Pachulia broke him. This Raptors team is very different from previous years, although a lot of that certainly has to do with their roster. Either way, the Raptors play much better as a team than the Sixers’ do, even if the 76ers do have a slightly better roster. Home advantage will certainly help them too. Expect Toronto to win tonight to take a 1-0 series lead.