2) Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic
Currently holding down the eighth seed, a little shifting in the standings could see the Raptors and Magic square off in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season. D.J. Augustin and crew stole Game 1 from the Raptors in their first round series a year ago, which led to a trying couple of days for Raptors faithful.
Lowry failed to score a point in the game, leading pundits to further perpetuate the feeling that the Raptors could never find their footing in Game 1’s. Of course, this was all put to pasture when the Raptors won the next four games against the Magic, and eventually, the NBA championship.
Now, as the NBA gets set to play in the Magic Kingdom, the team whose jerseys are sponsored by the resort in which this tournament will be taking place looks mighty similar to the squad that took on the Raptors last season. Augustin, along with Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and former Raptor Terrence Ross will all be out looking for revenge on the team that sent them packing a year ago.
During the lead-up to last season’s Orlando series, much was made about potential matchup issues for Siakam, particularly in dealing with the Magic’s Jonathan Isaac. The long and rangy two-way PF is a sort of Siakam-lite, who brings it on both ends of the floor.
The 2020 All-Star and Isaac went head-to-head all series long, but with you-know-who running the show, Siakam was not relied upon as heavily as he will be this time around. The 2019-20 Raptors are Siakam’s team, and the league knows it.
Isaac put up a good fight last season and now, the double teams Kawhi Leonard saw throughout the series might fall on Siakam. How he handles this extra coverage will determine the series.
The Raptors are first in the league when it comes to team defence, while Orlando is third. Prepare for long shot clocks, turnovers, and sub-100 games if this series comes to pass.