The Sixers lost back-to-back games to the Raptors after going up 3-0 in the series. This set up a critical game six matchup and a must-win game to avoid a game seven back in Philadelphia. Last night’s game came with many concerns about the Sixers, James Harden’s impact, Joel Embiid’s injury, and Doc Rivers losing 3-1 leads. The 76ers would answer the call in convincing fashion routing the Raptors by 34 points with a score of 132 -97, led by their trio Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey.
Embiid & Harden:
This Sixers team goes as Embiid & Harden go. The tone was set early in this game as James Harden would open up in the first by scoring 10 points. One of the baskets was a dominant dunk. This game was James Harden’s best games of the series. He had an efficient shooting night going 7-12 from the field, scoring 22 points, six rebounds, 15 assists, and a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line in 42 minutes. Harden showed the burst and quickness we became accustomed to, getting to the rim multiple times last night. Harden was aggressive early and often while also keeping his teammates involved resulting in 15 assists which kept the Raptors off-balance all night.
In tandem with a dominating night by Joel Embiid finished 12-18 from the field, scoring 33 points, ten rebounds, two steals, and three blocks while going 9-10 from the free-throw line. The main concern was how Embiid would respond from having two subpar games previously while dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb.
The Process was a man on a mission and would have the bounce-back game to close this series out. Offensively, Embiid was cooking and put the concerns to rest about the thumb injury with a vicious dunk late in the game using the injured hand. But what showed that the most was the energy and effort put into the defensive end of the floor. Embiid was a defensive anchor last night in the paint, altering shots, getting deflections, and battling for every rebound.
again he is needed if the Sixers want to win a championship. Maxey bounced back in a big way with an offensive clinic in the third quarter. Tyrese made two of his five three-pointers at the 8-minute mark last night sparking a 17-0 run by the Sixers. Maxey was 8-16 from the floor, finishing with 25 points and eight assists in 44 minutes. It might not be fair to put this much pressure on Maxey this early, but it’s clear he needs to continue to be one of the focal points of this Sixers offense. The Sixers will need to utilize Maxey more frequently because the more there is of him, the better the team will be.
The Discussion all week was the history of Doc Rivers and the blown leads he has had in the past. Last night’s game was important as things were trending in the wrong direction for the Sixers head coach. If somehow the Sixers were to lose this series, this would have been the first time they’ve lost a series after being up 3-0 on a team.
Doc Rivers put that idea to rest with one of his better coaching performances. The head coach had his team ready to play and focus, with a gameplan to match. Doc played man to man but mixed in various zones throughout the night, putting a halt to the Raptor’s offense. The third quarter displayed that as the Sixers went on a 17-0 run, not allowing the Raptors to score a point over five minutes. While also blitzing Raptors star Siakim getting the ball out of his hands, not letting him get downhill, forcing others to make plays.
Danny Green is a veteran and champion and has had to step into a starting role because Mattise Thybulle not being available for road games due to Canada’s vaccination laws. The veteran shooting guard has been a bright spot for the Sixers for most of the series and flexed his championship DNA once again playing, for 29 minutes last night and making four timely three-pointers and one steal.
The Sixers starters scored 111 points tonight, which propelled them to the second round of the NBA playoffs and will now face the Miami Heat. The Heat will not be an easy matchup for the Sixers, as game one is Monday night in Miami. The Sixers have a real chance against the Heat if they continue to build chemistry and stay locked in and focus.
Photo by PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire