Shortly after an embarrassing Game 5 loss, Doc Rivers said the Sixers had an extra gear.
Apparently, it was the third gear because the number three is what ultimately ended the Raptors’ season.
No, it wasn’t the disparity from the three-point line (although I wouldn’t blame you if you went in that direction). Nor was it Toronto’s #3, OG Anunoby, who picked up his third foul in under nine minutes, essentially removing any rhythm. What kept the Raptors from getting win number 3 in this series was the third quarter.
As has been the case in every game this series, the Sixers outscored the Raptors in the third quarter. Philadelphia put the pedal to the metal and never let up, winning the quarter 37-17. The 21-point cushion was more than enough to hold up against a Raptors team that struggled mightily from beyond the arc. Toronto shot 7-for-35 from three.
raptors five minute scoring drought ™️ strikes at the worst possible time— alex (@steven_lebron) April 29, 2022
Philadelphia was fuelled by Joel Embiid, who shot 12-for-18, scored 33 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and amassed 3 blocks. This time, he waited until the game was decided before busting out his airplane wings.
Riding along with Embiid, James Harden (22 points, 15 assists, and 6 rebounds), Tobias Harris (19 points and 11 rebounds), and Tyrese Maxey (25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 threes) each took turns breaking the defensive schemes of a Toronto squad that was without Fred VanVleet.
Without their floor general again, the Raptors received a boost from the bench in the form of Chris Boucher. He almost had a double-double in the first half (19 points and 9 rebounds). Slimm Duck finished the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
In the second quarter, Pascal Siakam appeared to be on his way to another dominant performance, attacking Harden and Harris relentlessly, turning a first-quarter deficit into a second-quarter lead. He would finish with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The Scotiabank Arena crowd was late arriving, but those that were in the building on time made sure to compensate for the noise. The players on the court made sure to reciprocate by scoring in seven of their first 10 field goal attempts. On the opening two possessions, Scottie Barnes scored in the paint over Joel Embiid, then followed that with an assertive 1-on-1 move to score over the MVP candidate.
Gary Trent Jr. continued to show he has fully recovered from the illness that plagued him at the start of the series, leading the Raptors with 11 points in the opening quarter.
For Philadelphia, Harden got the memo and attacked the basket with purpose. By my count, he drove 8 times in the first five minutes. Whether it was kickouts to awaiting shooters beyond the arc, laying it in with ease, or forcing the refs to blow the whistle, Harden was a man on a mission.
The second quarter started similarly to the first quarter, with the Raptors attacking with purpose, scoring 17 in the first five minutes. The Thad Young — Chris Boucher connection continued to thrive. On two possessions within the first minute of the second quarter, Thad found Chris on a backcut for a layup, followed by another cut that led to free throws.
Keeping Philadelphia afloat, despite a raucous Scotiabank Arena, was someone who is quite familiar with this atmosphere, Danny Green. Whether he was setting up shop in the corner, making timely hustle plays, or even hitting a stepback three, Green’s 12 first-half points were just what (the) Doc(tor) ordered.
All series long, Doc has had his troops ready coming out of halftime, winning the third quarter in every game of the series. Game 6 was no different as Harden and Maxey re-established the assertiveness that fuelled Philadelphia’s hot start to the game.
Nightmare Q for the Raptors, who shot 5-19 FG/2-11 3P and were outscored 37-17 in the 3rd. Some tension boiling over towards the end as Embiid gets away with a flagrant on Boucher, exchanges words with OG and then taunts the crowd as they chanted "F*** Embiid." Sixers by 21— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) April 29, 2022
Entering the final quarter with a comfortable 99-78 lead, the Sixers essentially sat back and watched as the Raptors launched (and missed) more threes. OG Anunoby only scored five points after sitting out a large portion of the first half due to foul trouble. It was obvious he was never able to get into a rhythm. The fire that lit Trent Jr. earlier in the game was extinguished as Philadelphia picked him apart on the defensive end. While Boucher was a star, his battery mates off the bench — Precious Achiuwa and Thad Young — combined for 3 points on 1-for-11 shooting.
Coming back from an insurmountable deficit was always going to be just that. Insurmountable. The Raptors entered the season with question marks surrounding half-court offense and who exactly would guard the Embiids of the NBA. With a third-quarter lull on offense, 20% shooting from three, and no one to slow down Embiid, that’s what spelled the end for this Raptors season.
Toronto fought valiantly to the end. They became the 14th team in league history to force a Game 6 after losing the first three games. The team wildly exceeded pre-season expectations, led by an All-Star guard, one very likely All-NBA forward, the Rookie of the Year, and a handful of overachievers. A disappointing finish doesn’t take away from the promising future that lies ahead. Many words will be written about this magical season, so make sure to keep checking this site as we recap the successful season that was.