The 76ers took a 2-0 series lead over the Toronto Raptors after a 112-97 victory Monday night. With the win Doc Rivers now has 100 career playoff victories and is now tied for 4th with former Sixers coach Larry Brown for 4th all time. With the win, the series heads to Toronto with the Sixers up 2-0.
Joel Embiid 31 points 11 rebounds
Tyrese Maxey 23 points 8 assists 9 rebounds
Tobias Harris 20 points 10 rebounds
James Harden 14 points 6 rebounds 6 assists
Danny Green 11 points
OG Anunoby 26 points
Pascal Siakam 20 points 10 rebounds
Fred VanVleet 20 points
Chris Boucher 17 points 8 rebounds
Nick Nurse 1 technical and 100 issues with the refs
A slow first quarter start saw the Raptors take a 1 point lead after the 1st. Even though they were trailing Joel Embiid scored 19 of his 31 in the first quarter. Maxey coming off a 38 point master piece in game 1, was held scoreless in the first quarter. However, quarters 2 and 3 were a different story. The Sixers outscored Toronto 35-19 in the 2nd and 28-19 in the 3rd. Everything was falling for the Sixers. Danny Green looked like vintage Green. He looked like Larry Bird at times. Tobias Harris is finally starting to find his role on this new team.
The Sixers scared everyone in the 4th quarter. They saw a 27 point lead drop very quick. A 20-2 run by Toronto had Sixer fans holding their breath and having flash backs to Game 5 of the Hawks series. However, this amazing play by Danny Green helped reignite the spark in the Sixers, and we were able to take game 2.
Takeaways from Game 2
1. Sixers need to escape injury free
I held my breath all game because I felt we were about to lose a player due to injury. Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle ran into each other. The exchange resulted in Embiid holding his elbow. For the remainder of the game he seemed to be in pain and his stroke was not as smooth. Harden and Embiid ran into each other which may have resulted in what looked like James Harden having a concussion. Tobias Harris was holding his shoulder and Tyrese Maxey was rolling on the ground after a wrist injury.
All game the Raptors were fouling much harder than game 1. The Sixers need to stay healthy. The fouls got harder and harder all game long. The officials were not calling it.
2. The Sixers have depth
All season we heard that the Sixers had no depth. However, games 1 and 2 shows that we do. Now I am not saying there are 10 guys off the bench, but when one star has an off game, another star steps up. We saw that in game 1 when Embiid struggled. Maxey stepped up and had a 38 point game. Embiid played like an MVP tonight, but with Harden struggling Tobias and Danny Green both stepped up.
3. Doc Rivers preparing for no Matisse Thybulle
Matisse Thybulle will miss game 3 and 4 due to him not being vaccinated. With no Matisse in game 3 and 4, Doc is getting his team ready in games 1 and 2. Matisse played 10 minutes in game 2 and it is clear Doc is not going to give him the minutes in this series. This is a great move. The worst thing Doc could do is have all these different rotations and different game plans for different cities.
The first two games the Sixers dominated with Matisse not getting the minutes. Now we head to Toronto, with the momentum and we know what we have to do without Matisse. How would this team be if Matisse had two great games, then had to sit? The rotations would be off and the momentum would be lost in game 3. We all know Matisse is such a huge influence on defense. Other guys will need to step up in game 3 and 4.
4. The refs were equally bad for both team
Neither team was getting calls. The Raptors should have been called for some flagrant fouls, while Joel Embiid should not have gotten certain calls. However, both teams were getting short by the refs. Neither teams were getting calls. It was clear, the Raptors could not adjust while the Sixers did. By them adjusting to the refs, the Sixers were able to take advantage of the poorly officiated game. That is one of the biggest parts of the victory.
You adjust to the refs. The Raptors did not and the Sixers did not. How many times did you see Harden and Embiid throw their hands up looking for a call? Much less than normal. They focused on the game, protected the ball, and won the game.
5. Don't let your foot off the pedal
The Sixers got to comfortable heading into the 4th quarter. Toronto got off to a 20-2 run and Sixer fans got scared. They were reminded of the 26 point comeback Atlanta had in game 5 last season. This is playoff basketball. Until you hear that catchy Sixers song play, do not stop scoring and do not stop playing defense.