Following Danny Green‘s belated ring ceremony in Toronto, the Sixers opened Thursday night’s contest by converting on their first five threes, which resulted in an early 15-2 lead. Toronto started the game shooting 1/11 from the field but narrowed the deficit to 33-26 to end the first quarter.
Additionally, Nick Nurse’s Raptors were challenged with overcoming the absences of All-Star Fred VanVleet and talented 3-and-D wing O.G. Anunoby. Similarly, the Sixers’ best perimeter defender, Matisse Thybulle, missed the game due to his vaccination status.
To close the first and open the second, Toronto went on a quick 23-6 run and took the lead. In the second quarter, the Raptors outscored Philly 30-27, however, the Sixers held a 60-56 halftime edge. Toronto outscored the Sixers 31-25 in the third as Pascal Siakam scored 15 points in the quarter alone. As a result, the Raptors took an 87-85 lead into the final frame.
With MVP candidate Joel Embiid on the bench to begin the fourth, Toronto took their largest lead of the night, 99-89. Tyrese Maxey scored seven straight points in the middle stages of the fourth, which briefly cut the Toronto lead to three. Siakam proved to be too much for the Sixers’ defense to contain, and Toronto outscored the Sixers 32-29 in the fourth en route to their 119-114 victory.
Sixers Notable Numbers
Joel Embiid: 37 minutes, 30 points (10/22 FG, 10/12 FT, 0/4 3P), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 5 turnovers
James Harden: 39 minutes, 13 points (3/12 FG, 6/6 FT, 1/4 3P), 4 rebounds, 15 assists, and 3 turnovers
Tyrese Maxey: 36 minutes, 22 points (7/11 FG, 4/5 FT, 4/5 3P), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block
Pascal Siakam: 37 minutes, 37 points (14/28 FG, 8/10 FT, 1/7 3P), 11 rebounds, 12 assists, and 2 steals
Gary Trent Jr.: 41 minutes, 30 points (12/21 FG, 1/1 FT, 5/8 3P), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal
Rivers Gives Paul Reed a Chance
In a coaching decision that shocked most Sixers fans, Doc Rivers finally gave former G League MVP Paul Reed a chance at the backup center role. After many nights watching the corpses of DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap get toasted while Embiid is resting, Rivers made an adjustment that Sixers fans have been calling for all season. While the first attempt of Reed getting the backup center minutes didn’t go as well as desired, the DePaul product provided much-needed energy and defensive ability that the veterans simply don’t provide.
While there will be growing pains that Rivers failed to address earlier in the season, Reed should not be relegated back to his reserve role. In his first stint on the court, the 22-year old accrued five points and five rebounds to go along with one steal. However, the Sixers’ lead still dissipated in the non-Embiid minutes. Reed’s plus-minus in his first stint stood at minus-8. The former second-round draft selection finished the night with 5 points (2/2 FG, 1/1 FT), 7 rebounds (3 offensive), and a steal. However, the Sixers were still outscored by 13 points with Reed on the court.
Tobias Harris’ Three-Point Volume
In his eleventh NBA season, Tobias Harris reached the milestone of 1,000 career threes-made in Thursday’s loss. As of late, the clunky forward has given Embiid and Harden more space to operate by shooting more threes. Harris, in the previous ten games, has attempted less than five threes only once, something that was nearly a nightly occurrence before Harden’s arrival. If Harris is able to carry over this recent rise in three-point volume into the playoffs, he will provide valuable floor-spacing in the half-court for Embiid, Maxey, and Harden.
With Thybulle ineligible to play in Toronto, the Sixers had to lean on Danny Green to fill his role. Furkan Korkmaz also entered the game briefly. However, he fouled twice in his two minutes without recording a stat. Fortunately, Green adequately filled in, as he played 38 minutes and accumulated 18 points (6/9 FG, 0/1 FT, 6/7 3P), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, one steal, and one block.
The veteran wing played with added emotions in Thursday’s game as he received his 2019 championship ring pregame. He knocked down a season-high six threes! Because of this, Thursday night’s level of performance shouldn’t be expected consistently if the two teams were to match up in the playoffs, which is looking increasingly more likely.
With a pair of games remaining, the 49-31 Sixers will play Indiana in Philly in the first of a back-to-back on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 o’clock ET and the game can be followed on NBC Sports Philly and 97.5 The Fanatic. For additional Sixers coverage and other Philadelphia sports insight, visit PhillySportsNetwork.com!