Sixers observations: What we learned in Wednesday’s win over Toronto

Tobias Harris
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Following a loss in the first game of the two-game series, the Sixers were able to fight off the Toronto Raptors and secured the victory by a score of 109-102.

The Sixers shot the ball 15% better from beyond the three-point arc than their previous game. They also shot 17 more free-throws than the Raptors in this one and Embiid got to the line a team-high 12 times.

The Sixers took the lead early and held on throughout, however were never able to fully put the game away. The Raptors were able to bounce back and stay within striking distance throughout, despite the Sixers once leading by 21.

Sixers start out strong

The Sixers started the game red-hot and soon went on a 13-0 run to jump out to a 20-8 lead in the first eight minutes. Soon after, Ben Simmons picked up two quick fouls and was forced to go to the bench.

Luckily, Furkan Korkmaz was able to step up to the plate and score 16 first-quarter points. Furky played all 12 first-quarter minutes and in total shot 4-6 from deep. The Sixers cruised to a 37-18 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter.

A sloppy second-quarter allowed the Raptors to sneak back in. The 8 total team turnovers were largely responsible for this as the Sixers went into the half leading 55-42.

Picking up where they left off

The Second half went along to a similar theme as the Sixers held the Raptors at an arms distance throughout the game. However, the Sixers failed to fully put the Raptors away and the game took much longer than it should have to go final.

It turned out to be a fairly poor game compared to the sky-high standards of Joel Embiid. The big man ended with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but Nick Nurse and the Raptors deserve a ton of credit for the defensive gameplay they put in place to stop Joel.

Tobias Harris settled in and scored a team-high 23 points along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. It was a fairly quiet game from most of the roster, although Shake Milton made his presence felt coming off the bench.

The Sixers’ carelessness with the ball showed up at the end of this game as well and they ended with 19 total turnovers on the night. The team ranked 3rd worst in the league in this category with an average of 15.6 TO’s per game going into this game.

The Sixers held on to a win and finished with a score of 109-102. The late sparks by the Raptors were extinguished and the Sixers split the back-to-back against their Eastern Conference opponents.

Final Thoughts and What’s Next for Sixers:

Overall, the Sixers should not be too upset with splitting a two-game series with the Raptors. Despite a slow start, they have climbed to 5th in the Eastern Conference and now have a 16-16 record.

The Raptors had won their previous four games before this with two of those games against the 3rd-place Bucks. Nick Nurse did a tremendous job in giving his team the best opportunity to win. While they are a shade below title contenders, the Raptors are forming a stingy identity and will not be a fun team to face in a 7-game series come postseason.

One growing storyline is the Sixers’ ability to put away games. Once again in this matchup, the Sixers consistently held the Raptors at arm’s length, but failed to ever put the nail in the coffin.

As a result of this, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris each had to play 36 minutes and Ben Simmons clocked 35 minutes as well. The final 3 minutes seemingly took an hour as the Raptors extended the clock with free-throws in a game that they once were down 21 points.

One of the brighter signs at the beginning of the season was the Sixers’ ability to win the games they were supposed to win. This seems simple but has been a problem for the 76ers for several years. While they still came out on top in this one, the confidence that the game was never in doubt was never there.

A win is a win though and the Sixers will remain in their spot at the top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 21-11. Their next game will take place Thursday as they will take on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire