The Sixers played the first of two games in Toronto against the Raptors on Wednesday night. This is the first meeting between the two teams since their playoff matchup, where the Sixers eliminated the Raptors in six games after being up 3-1 in the series.
The theme of the Sixers struggling in Toronto over the last few seasons continued with the Raptors beating the Sixers 119-109. The Raptors scrappy defense and good offensive showings from Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent helped the Raptors win almost wire-to-wire. Take a look at three takeaways from Wednesday’s matchup:
An Embarrassing Defensive Effort
The Sixers’ defense hasn’t been good to start out the season. They had a goal of being the best defensive team and the league, and they are far from it. The Philadelphia 76ers gave up 63 points in the first half, providing the Raptors with 12 points off their turnovers.
This team plays defense like it’s the first day of training camp. No communication, with some players switching screens and others going over/underneath screens. Plenty of Raptors got wide-open threes and also got whatever they wanted in the paint. The Raptors took advantage of the Sixers’ age-old problem of transition defense as well.
PJ Tucker, who was thought to add a jolt to the team defensively, looked very underwhelming this game when guarding anyone. Joel Embiid’s defense in this game and early on leaves much to be desired with little effort on that end of the floor. If they expect to be the championship-contending team that they want to be, they have to get better on defense.
Maxey Has Finally Arrived
Tyrese Maxey has had a slow start to the regular season after lighting it up in the preseason. In the first few games, he wasn’t involved in much of the offense but was able to get going in this matchup against the Raptors.
He was a one-man fastbreak, finishing with crafty layups and hitting shots from deep as well. Maxey ended the night with 31 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds, which was one of the only bright spots of this matchup.
Is the Bench Really Better Than Last Season?
Philadelphia went out this offseason and wanted to bolster their bench, but they haven’t gotten much production thus far this season. De’Anthony Melton was a bright spot for the bench against the Raptors but seems to be the only one settling into his role.
Melton ended with 12 points, 5 assists, and some good defensive possession. Outside of Melton, the rest of the bench totaled 6 points. This bench has to play better in order for this team to get on track.
The Sixers will face off against the Raptors on Friday night to see if they can win the rubber match. The Sixers can’t fall to 1-5, can they? For Philadelphia’s sake, we hope not.