For the first time since mid-March, the Raptors did not lose to a 3-pointer in the final five seconds. Although, their Game 2 loss to the 76ers was heart-breaking all the same.
So, the Raptors got out to a slow start. They trailed by double-digits at halftime. The starters led a third quarter comeback. Kawhi Leonard hit a slew of clutch buckets. Kawhi found a teammate for an open three in the dying seconds. Does any of this sound familiar?
Let’s hope the Raptors recover in Philadelphia the same way they recovered from the Game 1 loss to Orlando. Check out the latest episode as we dissect Game 2, with an eye toward Thursday’s momentum-swinging game.
On The Latest Episode:
Toronto got another outstanding performance from Kawhi Leonard (35/7/6) and Pascal Siakam (21/7/3 + 4 steals), along with inspiring play from Kyle Lowry (20/5/5 + excellent D). Unfortunately, that’s where the positive numbers end.
The bench was outscored (again). How bad has it gotten? Greg Monroe - yes, that one - scored twice as many points (10) as the entire Raptors bench (5). The Sixers were the aggressors from the jump and were the more desperate team. That aggression led to more shots at the line, which ultimately was the difference.
Unfortunately, Game 1 was not an anomaly — Nick Nurse continued some questionable rotation choices. He is still not matching Marc Gasol’s minutes to Joel Embiid’s. By not taking advantage of this low-hanging fruit, Embiid is given the easier assignment of Serge Ibaka — who isn’t hitting his outside shots and not strong enough to handle Joel’s defensively.
While Toronto won the turnover battle again, the lack of live-ball turnovers are limiting transition opportunities. Also, the Raptors’ shooting woes, which we all agree is more of an anomaly, dug a hole too deep to recover from.
Jimmy “don’t-call-me-James” Butler traded haymakers with Kawhi throughout the second half. It made for entertaining and heart-racing drama. Butler may have saved the Sixers’ season. His performance will also assuredly call upon Nurse to put Kawhi on him defensively.
Not all things were glum. Toronto defense remained at an elite level, keeping the NBA’s top playoff offense from scoring 100 points again. Philadelphia may have thrown their best punch, while Toronto still has a few tricks up their sleeves. Whether it’s matching Gasol and Embiid minutes, opening up the playbook to the Kawhi-Gasol PnR, or hunting JJ Redick on the defensive end, there are plenty of counters the Raptors can use in Game 3.
2:20 - Not-so-glowing numbers
6:50 - 3 positives to take away (more like 2.5)
9:15 - Areas of concern
13:10 - Jimmy Buckets show
15:00 - Signs of hope