Monday night, the Sixers played host to the Fred VanVleet-less Raptors in Game 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. VanVleet was not available due to a hip flexor strain; however, Toronto overcame his absence to win, 103-88. Joel Embiid, with a torn ligament in his thumb that will require offseason surgery, was involved early and often in Doc Rivers‘ offense. The MVP candidate, despite the injury, paced the Sixers to a 29-27 deficit through one quarter.
A boo-inducing 14-point second quarter resulted in Philly trailing, 54-41, at halftime. Nick Nurse‘s positionless lineup of five long wings posed frequent challenges for the Sixers’ backcourt of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Nurse commonly deployed a lineup composed of everyone 6-feet 6-inches and taller.
Toronto held a 75-66 lead at the conclusion of the third after they were outscored 25-21 in the quarter. The Raptors took the fourth quarter 28-22 en route to a 103-88 win. The Raptors shot 51 percent from the field and only turned the ball over eight times. In contrast, the Sixers shot 38% from the field with 15 turnovers.
Sixers’ Notable Numbers
- Joel Embiid 39 minutes, 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers (7/15 FG, 6/6 FT, 0/4 3P)
- James Harden 39 minutes, 15 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 turnovers (4/11 FG, 5/6 FT, 2/6 3P)
- Tobias Harris 44 minutes, 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists (6/16 FG, 2/2 FT, 2/7 3P)
Raptors’ Notable Numbers
- Pascal Siakam 43 minutes, 23 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists (10/17 FG, 1/2 FT, 2/4 3P)
- Gary Trent Jr. 38 minutes, 16 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 steals (5/14 FG, 4/4 FT, 2/6 3P)
- Scottie Barnes 40 minutes, 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals (5/10 FG, 2/2 FT, 0/1 3P)
Sixers’ Lack of Effort
The Sixers’ lack of effort is deeply concerning. They will not make a deep playoff run with performances like Monday night. Their turnover-infested, primarily isolation offense was stagnant with minimal ball movement. Toronto capitalized on those turnovers and outscored Philadelphia 20-9 in points off turnovers. Additionally, Embiid was uncharacteristically exposed by the Toronto offense repeatedly. The Raptors outscored Philly 56-36 in the paint.
In the postgame presser, Rivers described his team’s effort compared to Toronto’s effort level, “They were the tougher team all night. They were more physical all night…It was throughout the game. I thought they attacked us; we didn’t attack back.” At this point in the season, a lack of effort is purely inexcusable.
Maxey, Harden, Thybulle and their Ineffectiveness
Maxey’s timidness in the first half of games cannot be tolerated. The Rising Star shot 1/6 from the field in the first half, and his attacks to the rim were noticeably missed. Also, Harden is unable to easily expose mismatches such as 33-year-old Thaddeus Young, which further highlights his lack of explosiveness. The former MVP contributed to the disappointing loss with 5 turnovers and only 7 assists.
Matisse Thybulle was unusable Monday night and is not eligible for Game 6. The defensive-minded wing played 14 minutes and recorded 2 points (1/6 FG, 0/2 FT, 0/3 3P), 2 rebounds, and one steal. His only basket was an accidental ricochet off a Toronto defender.
Game 6 is scheduled to tip-off at 7 o’clock ET on Thursday in Toronto. Since 2015, Doc Rivers has an abysmal record of 3-11 in closeout games and is the only coach in NBA history to blow three 3-1 series leads. For more Sixers coverage and other Philly sports content, visit PhillySportsNetwork.com!