Sixers close out Raptors in six
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Philadelphia's dominant third quarter ends Toronto’s Cinderella season
14 teams prior to this year's playoffs have done what the Raptors accomplished in this series. After going down 0-3 in rather dramatic fashion, Toronto was able to extend the series to six games. Only three teams had forced a game seven while facing a 0-3 deficit, and the Raptors couldn’t become the fourth team ever to do so.
The game started out with both teams firing on all cylinders offensively, as little attention was paid to the defensive end. The Raptors and Sixers traded baskets early, and the Raptors were hanging with their opposition.
Chris Boucher made his impact felt coming off the bench, as he kept the Raptors afloat within the Sixer zone defence. His cutting created opportunities for the Raptors at the line and off the offensive glass while anything else offensively wasn’t working. Boucher had eight points and four rebounds after one quarter of action, three of his rebounds were on the offensive glass.
James Harden took Joel Embiid’s post game comments about his lack of aggression to heart, at least it seemed he did on the court. The former MVP attacked the paint with purpose and intent, as he scored two of his 10 first-quarter points on a one-handed tomahawk slam. He also made plays for his teammates off his lane penetration, as he had five of his 15 assists on the night in the first. Philadelphia led 34-29 after the first quarter of action.
The second quarter was more of the same for both teams, however Raptor forward OG Anunoby was dealing with foul trouble. Two fouls in the first had already limited Anunoby’s court time, and he picked up his third foul early in the second quarter which effectively ended his first half with just nine minutes of court time.
Despite Anunoby’s foul trouble, the Raptors looked primed to jump into a lead. An 8-0 run to start the second quarter gave the Raptors a one-point lead, but the Sixers continued to respond, and the Raptors couldn’t consistently get stops to end the quarter. Philadelphia took a 62-61 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was where it all fell apart for the Raptors, as the Sixers jumped out to a nine-point lead off a 14-6 run, followed by a 9-0 run to which the Raptors ran out of responses to a Sixer offence that was still firing on all cylinders like it had in the first. Toronto shot 26.3% from the field in the third, and they couldn’t recover from that offensive drought. Philadelphia ran away with the game from there, and advanced to the second round with their 132-97 victory.
Philadelphia shot 63.2% in the first quarter, and they never really cooled off. They finished the game on 58% shooting from the field. Tyrese Maxey, who was the breakout star for Philadelphia in this first round matchup with the Raptors, once again exploded in the third quarter, this time pouring in 15 of his 25 in the third.
Chris Boucher finished with a team-high 25 points and 10 rebounds in 31-minutes of action. Pascal Siakam played a team-high 43 minutes on the way to 24 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
Rookie of the year Scottie Barnes recorded 18 points, seven rebounds, and three assists on 8-for-20 shooting in the loss.
The Sixers will take on the Miami Heat in round two NBA playoffs.
Putting the playoff run in perspective
While it certainly hurts to lose the way the Raptors did, especially in front of their fans at Scotiabank Arena, this is only the start for this Raptors core. The trio of Siakam, Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., and Fred VanVleet are all under contract for at least the next two-to-three years.
Scottie Barnes just finished the first year of his rookie-scale deal, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn with their second years of their rookie deals in the books. It was an almost unanimous sentiment around the NBA that this would be a developmental season for the Raptors, and they proved that they can play, and win against some of the top competition in the league. 48 wins in a season that saw Siakam, VanVleet, and Anunoby miss time on the floor with injuries.
A rookie from West Palm Beach Florida that exceeded all expectations from a fan-base that was almost ready to facepalm after his selection, turned into a fan-favourite, Rookie of the year that is undoubtedly the future of this team.
The emergence of a sharpshooter that got his first real shot as a featured offensive piece, truly blossomed on the defensive end to become one of the league’s best disruptors being among the leaders in steals and deflections.
This young Raptors squad is just scratching the surface of their potential, and that’s clear with how they’ve smashed every expectation set in front of them this season. They’re a young team that is learning what it takes to win in the playoffs, and after this loss, they know exactly where they came up short.
Another offseason of development for these guys, along with some tinkering by Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and company will provide a solid foundation to build upon going into next season.
The Raptors will surely have to make a decision on their experimental lineup that never really featured a “traditional big,” along with the contracts of key rotation pieces such as Boucher and Thaddeus Young. Along with a draft selection that looks to land in the early second round, there’s no shortage of work to be done (as always) for the Raptors.
FiredUp will continue Raptors coverage into the offseason, as we assess the NBA Draft, analyze potential NBA Free Agency targets Toronto could make a move for, along with any trades that the Raptors make.