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Raptors' Gasol again proving to be decisive big man in battle with Embiid

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08.05.2019

TORONTO – Kawhi Leonard is the best player on the Toronto Raptors, the best player in their second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers and is making a case as the best player on the planet at the moment.

“Playoff Kawhi” is the basketball equivalent of an astronaut – not many have walked in his shoes.

It’s a sight to behold.

But the 76ers were supposed to be a formidable obstacle for the Raptors because, in theory, they have the series’ second-best player in Joel Embiid.

The massive Cameroonian is already on a Hall of Fame trajectory – no other player in league history has started their career averaging at least 24 points, 11 rebounds and three assists through their first 158 NBA games, per Basketball-Reference.

But what if the Raptors have the best big man in the series? What if Marc Gasol is better than Embiid?

Embiid might have the windmill hops and the lightning-quick spin moves, but Gasol has more than held his own with his Spanish dad bod and leaping ability that might take him over a laptop – a closed one – on a good day.

Embiid is averaging 17 points and 7.6 rebounds on 38.3 per cent shooting for the series. Take away his Game 3 explosion when he went off for 33 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, as well as a number of out-sized celebrations, and the Sixers big man has been even more limp, averaging just 13 and seven on an anemic 27 per cent shooting.

Any way you cut it, that’s a massive win for the Raptors given Embiid is coming off an all-NBA season during which he put up 27.5 points and 13.5 rebounds.

Kyle Lowry is as discerning a basketball........

© Sportsnet