Sixers lead from the beginning and leave Toronto Raptors in the dust during their 116-95 win
Time and time again it has been proved that Kawhi Leonard can’t do everything singlehandedly.
Leonard scored 33 points and was near-perfect in the third quarter. However, he got little help from his Raptors teammates as Toronto dropped an ugly 116-95 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday evening.
The result means that the Sixers will now take a 2-1 lead into Game 4 on Sunday, of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid recorded 33 points and ten rebounds to top Philidelphia while Jimmy Butler added a further 22 points.
Also, Pascal Siakam had 20 points for the Raptors. In truth, Toronto looked nothing like the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Danny Green added 13 points. However, for the second consecutive game, the remaining Raptors failed to show up in this crucial playoff series. This was evident in Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry recording only seven points apiece.
The rest of Raptors roster totalled only 15 points between them.
The travelling Toronto side never led and was thoroughly dominated by a home team buoyed by a noisy Wells Fargo Center crowd. Meanwhile, the Raptors trailed by 14 points in the first half and had to dig themselves out of an 18-point hole midway through the third quarter. A running dunk by Siakam signalled a 15-8 Raptors momentum charge that pulled them to within eight points of the Sixers. Also, Leonard has now scored 113 points through three games of the series and was six-for-six in the third quarter. The Raptors trailed 89-81 with just one quarter remaining.
Leonard started the fourth on the bench, and in truth, the Raptors were hapless without their star. Butler scored on a dunk to put the Sixers back up by 18 points with just nine minutes to play. The arena spurred their team on for the final push, and refused to sit down. Something that the Sixers clearly thrived off.
The game got ugly in the stretch, and when Embiid scored on a one-handed dunk with just under five minutes to play. He put a hand to his encouraging the crowd to cheer even louder. They needed little encouragement. The play gave the Sixers a 26-point lead. Their most significant advantage of the game.
Toronto fans would have entered the series full of expectation. As the Raptors went 26-15 on the road in the regular NBA season. With one of these wins being a 119-107 victory in Philadelphia. Also, the Raptors went 3-1 against the Sixers in the regular season. With their only success coming against a Toronto team that didn’t include Leonard.
“I think the first adjustment we’re going have to make is we’re going have to play a hell of a lot harder, right?” Nick Nurse said after the game in his post-match press conference. “And we’re going have to play a lot more physical. And if we don’t do that, then the prettiest things that we decide to do offensively aren’t going matter much.”