Only one game in the Playoffs on Day 20, which was defined by the stars of two Eastern conference juggernauts.
Toronto Raptors (1-2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (2-1): 95 to 116
This game was a great one…for the Sixers.
The model of having four great, All-Star quality starters playing with a veteran shooter in JJ Redick really paid off in exactly this situation. Games like this are what this team was made for, with the top star Embiid leading the charge with an impressive 33 point, 10 board, 5 block performance on 9/18 shooting from the field including this windmill slam to get Wells Fargo on their feet.
The rest of the starters were not far behind in their performances. Redick chipped in with 15 points and shot 3/6 from three. Harris had a solid 13-8-5 line which was only slightly better than Simmons’ 10-7-7.
It was Butler who stepped up as the clear number 2 in this one, having an impressive 22 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists on 9/15 shooting. But it’s the other things that Butler was doing on the floor. Although you can’t say he was playing lock down defence on Kawhi Leonard (who finished with 33 points on 13/22 shooting), he was making life more difficult from the cyborg from San Diego State. He also produced one of the best defensive highlights of the night.
116 points is a good offensive performance, but not an unmatchable one from the Sixers. The aforementioned Kawhi Leonard received very little help from his Toronto teammates aside from Siakim’s solid 20 points on 7/15 shooting.
But the matchups in this game 3 that the Sixers rolled out really affected the ecosystem of the Raptors’ offence. Lowry was overwhelmed by the smothering defence of either Simmons or occasionally Butler. Siakim was surprisingly being marked by Joel Embiid, making him a less effective around the rim threat and forcing Pascal into perimeter scoring situations which hasn’t been his consistent role. None of the Raptors ‘other guys’ were able to spark any sizeable offence, leading to a shooting performance that dipped under 50% and was unable to keep up with Philly.
There’s a few interesting things to watch in the next game.
- Whether or not Philly stick with Embiid on Siakim and if that is more gimmick than effective strategy.
- If a traditionally strong defensive team in Toronto will be able to slow Embiid on the block whilst also keeping tabs on the litany of perimeter playmakers on the Sixers starting squad.
- Who can step up and provide meaningful help to Kawhi on offence – note the offensive net rating in this series when Kawhi is on the floor (7.2) vs when he isn’t (-52.5).
Next Game @ Sixers: Monday (6/5) at 5:30am (AEST).