By: Kylan Watson
As the playoff series between the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors shifted to Canada. The Raptors are playing for their playoff lives as they try to adjust on both sides of the ball and take full advantage of some home cooking. Despite a Toronto offensive barrage in the first two quarters the Sixers battled back thanks to a Joel Embiid late game three-pointer. Philly beat Toronto 104-101 to take a commanding three-to-nothing lead with Game four on Saturday afternoon.
The Sixers did not have it at the beginning of the game. Toronto was dominating them early in the game as their aggressive defensive pressure forced Philly into 22 uncharacteristic turnovers. That propelled Toronto to a 17-point lead by half-time. They were threatening to blow Philly off the court. OG Anunoby (26-points) and Gary Trent Jr (24-points) led the Raptors. They combined for 50 of the Raptors 101-points. Both of them took full advantage of Philly being late on defensive rotations to make them pay on the offensive side of the ball. The Sixers made some defensive adjustments to shut the duo down. They put Tobias Harris and Danny Green on both of them and their length slowed them down enough to help Philly get back into the game. Harris single-handedly kept Philly in the game with his defensive effort. He played some suffocating defense on Pascal Siakam and forced him to take some tough shots that he missed.
On who was the hero in this game, “The unsung hero? Tobias Harris tonight was unbelievable,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Philly was able to weather the offensive barrage by the Raptors. They exploded in the third quarter and scored 28 third quarter points. That was the difference in the game Philly made some big offensive adjustments at half-time. The biggest one was making a more concerted effort to get the ball in Joel Embiid’s hand. He struggled in the first half, but he was only going to be kept down for so long. He scored 18 of his 33-points in the third quarter. Embiid took full advantage of the fact that there is no one available on the Raptors roster who could slow him down. He kept his team in it enough with some clutch baskets to force the overtime period, and when it mattered the most, he hit a late game turn-around prayer from beyond the arc, which was answered to push his team over Toronto.
On Embiid’s play, “That’s the MVP of the league right there,” said Sixers Point-guard James Harden.
Both teams will now have two days off to prepare for Game four. Philly will need to play their game and limit their turnovers if they want to sweep the Raptors and move on to the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.