Joel Embiid And The 76ers Blitzed The Raptors To Take A 2-0 Series Lead

The Philadelphia 76ers torched the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 over the weekend, utterly dominating on the offensive end of the floor in a lopsided victory. On Monday evening, the same two teams matched up at Wells Fargo Center, though the Raptors were without rookie standout Scottie Barnes and with starting shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. greatly limited by what the team described as a non-COVID illness. Though the Raptors enjoyed some productive stretches, the 76ers put together another incredibly strong effort over the course of 48 minutes, taking a 2-0 series advantage with a 112-97 win.

Coming off a disappointing Game 1 performance, Toronto was hot out of the gate, both in performance and fireworks. There was an early skirmish between the two teams, setting the tone for a potentially explosive atmosphere in Philadelphia.

The Raptors also zoomed to an 11-2 run at the outset, showing some of the offensive firepower that rarely materialized in the opener, headlined by a hot shooting start from Fred VanVleet.

From there, the Sixers slowly established control, first generating free throw attempts and converting them at a high level. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby both picked up two fouls in a hurry for Toronto, and the Sixers attempted 12 free throws in less than eight minutes. That helped to fuel a 16-2 run by Philadelphia to take its first lead.

VanVleet had other ideas, though, as he carried Toronto’s offense in the opening minutes, scoring 14 points in 10 minutes, headlined by four three-pointers.

Joel Embiid was not ready to be outdone, setting a new playoff career high with 19 points in the first period. After all of that, the Raptors held a one-point lead after 12 minutes, but that was largely the end of the good news for the visitors.

In a stunning twist, the Sixers dominated the non-Embiid minutes in the first half. Philadelphia used a 12-2 run to take a 52-42 lead, riding six straight points from Tyrese Maxey.

All told, the Sixers were +12 with Embiid off the floor in the first half, and Philadelphia took advantage. The Sixers won the second quarter by a 35-19 margin, taking a 15-point halftime lead, and Philadelphia converted 21-of-23 attempts at the free throw line before the break.

The game was not out of reach, but Toronto needed to make a statement early in the third quarter, and they were unable to do so. The Raptors missed 10 of the first 13 shots in the third quarter, scoring only eight points in more than nine minutes. Philadelphia pushed ahead with a 20-8 extended spurt, and it felt as if the game was largely over at that stage.

Philadelphia led by as many as 29 points after halftime, though the Raptors did have one final run in them. Toronto scored 15 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, slashing the margin to 97-86 with fewer than seven minutes remaining. It was for naught, however, as Maxey knocked down a pull-up three-pointer to stop the bleeding, setting up an 8-0 run that put the game away behind a big dunk by Danny Green.

Overall, the Sixers again used tremendous offense to secure the win. Despite a sub-optimal fourth quarter, Philadelphia scored well over 1.2 points per possession, shooting 52 percent from the floor, 14-of-30 from three-point range, and 26-of-30 at the free throw line. All five scorers landed in double figures for the Sixers, with Embiid producing 31 points and 11 rebounds, Tobias Harris adding 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Maxey contributing 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

With the Raptors battling personnel shortcomings, neither game in Philadelphia was particularly competitive. The 76ers must navigate life on the road beginning on Wednesday, however, and Matisse Thybulle will be ineligible to play in Toronto. It is too early to know the status of Barnes or Trent Jr. but, simply put, the Raptors will be in a virtual must-win situation in Game 3, and that contest will paint a picture of how competitive the rest of the series might be.