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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four things to watch in Game 5 between the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers

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Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard (NBA Getty Images)

After losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2, the Toronto Raptors regained homecourt advantage with an impressive win in Game 4.

Kawhi Leonard was spectacular once again, scoring a game-high 39 points and knocking down a huge 3-pointer late to secure the victory. He got some much-needed help from Toronto's role players, with Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol each scoring in double figures.

It helped the Raptors overcome a quiet game from Pascal Siakam, who finished with only nine points.

As the series shifts back to Toronto, here are four things to watch in Game 5...

Pascal Siakam's injury

Siakam clearly wasn't himself in Game 4. He played 29 minutes and missed eight of his 10 shot attempts.

It's the first time in these playoffs in which Siakam has failed to score double figures. His previous low was 16 points, which he scored against the Orlando Magic in Game 4.

The Raptors won that game convincingly, however, blowing the Magic out by 27 points.

Joel Embiid deserves a ton of credit for how he's contained Siakam so far in this series - Siakam has scored 23 points on 8-for-30 shooting against Embiid- but some of his struggles in Game 4 likely had to do with the calf injury he suffered in Game 3.

Siakam was originally listed as doubtful for Game 4 but was upgraded to a game-time decision a couple of hours before tipoff. While he said that he has no excuse as long as he's healthy enough to be on the court, he admitted post-game that the injury has impacted his mobility.

"I don't want to say it limited me because I got no excuse," Siakam said. "If I'm out there on the court, that means I'm ready to play. But maybe lateral movement a little bit just because it's sore and also my hamstrings are sore.

"Those two combined, it makes it a little bit tough for you to move or be as active as you want to be."

The Raptors were fortunate that other players stepped up in Game 4, but they'll likely need Siakam to be better to beat the 76ers two more times in this series.

The Serge Ibaka-Marc Gasol lineups

The biggest adjustment Raptors head coach Nick Nurse made in Game 4 was going big by playing Ibaka and Gasol together in the frontcourt.

It's not a look we saw much of in the regular season, but they played 23 minutes together on Sunday and helped the Raptors outscore the 76ers by seven points.

The Raptors were at their best when Ibaka and Gasol were surrounded by Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, posting an offensive rating of 110.1 and a defensive rating of 79.0.

With how successful they were on both ends, it's the lineup Nurse chose to close the game with.

"The biggest thing I felt tonight was the rebounding," Nurse said of the Ibaka-Gasol pairing. "It just felt like we were getting pushed around a lot by the glass the last two games. That would happen with our small lineup, they were just throwing it up there and revving their engines and flying to the rim.

"Tonight we just had more size, that way, and it kind of looked like the rebounds were affected by that."

As NBA.com's John Schuhmann noted, Toronto didn't actually rebound better in the minutes Ibaka and Gasol played together, but it was an improvement over the non-Siakam lineups the Raptors rolled out in Games 1, 2 and 3.

More importantly, the Raptors were able to get some offence out of the two big men, with Ibaka scoring 12 points and Gasol chipping in with 16 points.

Even though Ibaka couldn't buy a shot from the 3-point line, he was able to use his size to score a couple of easy baskets against Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris on duck-ins.

Gasol, meanwhile, was able to knock down a couple of 3-pointers and take advantage of the 76ers loading up on Leonard and Lowry by rolling hard to the basket.

If the two can continue to play well off of each other, it could give the Raptors the edge they were missing in Games 2 and 3.

Kawhi Leonard's continued brilliance

Leonard has been nothing but spectacular for the Raptors through four games against the 76ers.

After scoring 39 points in Game 4, Leonard is now averaging 38.0 points per game on 61.8 percent shooting from the field and 46.4 percent from the perimeter in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

It hasn't mattered who the 76ers have put on him. Ben Simmons has drawn the primary assignment of guarding Leonard and has done well to make things as difficult as possible for him - particularly when compared to his teammates - but it hasn't prevented him from lighting it up.

According to NBA.com, Leonard has scored 84 points on 33-for-56 shooting from the field (58.9 percent) when matched up with Simmons. He's also drawn six shooting fouls on the one-time All-Star, leading to 12 free throw attempts.

For comparison, Leonard has combined to score 65 points on 22-for-33 shooting (66.7 percent) against everyone else on the 76ers.

It's hard to believe Leonard can continue to score at this high of a rate, but he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

Heading into Game 5, it'll be interesting to see if the 76ers continue to live with him taking and making tough shots or if they decide to double him with greater frequency to make someone else on the Raptors beat them, especially with Siakam now dealing with an injury.

How Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons respond

Whereas Leonard dominated Game 4, Philadelphia's All-Stars didn't show up.

After scoring 33 points in Game 3, Embiid was limited to 11 points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field. Simmons wasn't much better, scoring 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field.

The reason the 76ers had an opportunity to win Game 4 despite off-nights from Embiid and Simmons was because of Butler. In addition to leading them with 29 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, he was the only 76er to show up in the fourth quarter, as he was responsible for 10 of the team's 21 points and both of its assists.

Butler spoke after the loss about the need for Simmons and Embiid to be more aggressive moving forward for the 76ers to have a chance at winning the series.

"I want Ben to be aggressive just like I want Jo [Embiid] to be aggressive," he said. "Attack. We're not gonna win without you guys. You have to be ready to attack it at any point in time."

76ers head coach Brett Brown revealed that Embiid had been dealing with an illness the morning of Game 4.

As for Simmons, having to chase Leonard around on defence could be impacting his offensive production, but the 76ers can't afford for him to be a zero on offence, particularly down the stretch of games, when his usage rate has plummeted to 4.1 percent in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The 76ers will need Simmons to get back to attacking in transition, where he was among the league leaders in scoring during the regular season.

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