76ers fumble another large lead at home against Toronto
On the first night of a back-to-back, the 76ers hosted the Toronto Raptors as what could be a potential playoff matchup preview. In a low-scoring battle, this game came down to the wire with the Raptors taking their second victory in Philadelphia this season. The 76ers’ were out-hustled, out-rebounded, and out-coached which led to this disappointing loss by a final score of 93-88.
An explosive opening quarter put the Sixers out ahead early, putting up 37 points in the first quarter and enjoying a lead as large as 16 points at one point. All starters got involved and the offense was led by Tyrese Maxey who was very impressive in the half with 12 points and was supplemented by Matisse Thybulle who scored 10 points in the first two quarters. Thybulle attacked early, scoring off of screens and hitting open jumpers which makes this offense even more potent.
The second quarter was significantly worse than the first, with the Sixers getting outscored 30-17. The Raptors relied on out-hustling Philadelphia and being extremely aggressive on the offensive boards. Toronto’s size and athleticism made life difficult for the 76ers’ interior defense and they struggled to keep the Raptor’s bigs out of the paint. Philadelphia went into the break down by three points, 57-54.
Outside of the poor defensive rebounding effort by the Sixers, their play on that end was very solid, holding Toronto to 93 points. The problem for Philadelphia in this game was on the offensive end, where they shot just 30/73 from the floor and 7/27 from three as a team. Even with a potent offensive first half, the Sixers weren’t even able to crest 90 points in this game.
The stagnant offensive rutt seems to happen every game recently, whether it’s a slow start or a late-game meltdown, it has become more of a matter of when it will happen rather than if it will happen. Tonight it occurred during the important stretch of the fourth quarter, where Philadelphia turned the ball over multiple times and relied strictly on isolation offense.
Despite these struggles, this game still came down to the final possession where Philadelphia found themselves with a chance to tie or take the lead. Unfortunately, James Harden was called for an offensive foul that was categorized as a flagrant foul which ultimately allowed Toronto to extend the lead in the final seconds to close out a win.
Toronto did an exquisite job at neutralizing the 76ers’ stars in this game, holding James Harden and Joel Embiid to a combined 38 points. They swarmed Embiid every time he caught the ball and made life difficult for him on every possession. Embiid has had historically tough matchups with Toronto and tonight was no different, it was an off night from the field where he made just 6/20 shots on his way to 21 points.
James Harden’s performance was one to forget. He managed to post a respectable stat line with 17 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, but his shot-making and ball security stuck out in a bad way. He turned the ball over six times, three times in the final quarter, and missed all four of his jumpers from distance.
Philadelphia has relied almost exclusively on their core players to carry them offensively, and those players were incapable of doing that in this game which led to an ugly loss for the Sixers on their home floor.
There isn’t much time to sulk over this game with a quick turnaround against the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat coming to town tomorrow. The Sixers have lost two of three matchups against the Heat this season, most recently dropping a tough one in Miami earlier this month.
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