The Raptors Upset The Sixers In Game 5 To Send The Series Back To Toronto

With their season on the line, Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors put together an impressive effort in Game 4 over the weekend, sending the team’s first-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers back to Wells Fargo Center for Monday’s Game 5. The Raptors faced a different challenge on Monday, though, as standout guard Fred VanVleet was unavailable to play and the 76ers were set to play in front of their home crowd. In the end, none of those obstacles bothered the Raptors, with Toronto leading for the vast majority of what became a 103-88 victory to force a Game 6 back in Canada.

The Raptors put together a strong first half performance, and it began right away. Toronto made eight of the first nine shots in the opening quarter, taking a 18-9 lead behind success on both ends of the floor.

Toronto held the lead at the end of the first quarter, largely based on 60 percent shooting and the creation of seven turnovers on defense. However, Philadelphia kept things manageable behind its usually explosive offense, and 10 points and five rebounds from Joel Embiid.

The Raptors scored the first 12 points of the second quarter, turning a two-point edge into a 14-point edge in a hurry. Philadelphia did not score more than five minutes to begin the period, with Toronto imposing its will.

The visitors maintained the lead for the first of the half, taking a 54-41 advantage at the halftime break. Toronto shot 51 percent with only five turnovers in the first half, with Philadelphia scuffling to a 35 percent shooting clip and 10 giveaways.

After halftime, Toronto maintained its lead in what was a bit of a slog in the third quarter. The Raptors led by between eight and 13 points for the entire period and, while both teams maintained reasonable efficiency on offense, the pace was glacial in nature. Toronto did produce a few easy baskets going to the rim, however, and the Raptors held a nine-point edge with 12 minutes remaining.

Philadelphia began chipping away at the deficit early in the closing period, climbing within nine in short order. To counter, the Raptors strung together a mini-spurt of their own, extending the advantage to 87-73 with less than seven minutes remaining.

Though the 76ers were able to get it back to nine in a hurry, their progress stagnated. Neither team scored for more than two full minutes, with the scoreboard reading 88-79, and it was Toronto that struck first after that lull when OG Anunoby converted an impactful three-pointer with 3:53 remaining.

After a timeout, Toronto added another three-pointer, extending the lead to 15 points, and that effectively served as a dagger. To make it clearer, Anunoby put an exclamation point on the proceedings with a thunderous dunk in the final 150 seconds.

Even with the caveat of a (very) slow pace, the Sixers simply were not good enough on the offensive end. Philadelphia scored less than a point per possession in the game, shooting 38 percent from the floor and 27 percent from three-point range with 16 turnovers. The Sixers received very little from their bench (11 points) and, with five players in double figures for the Raptors, it was a winning formula for Toronto. Siakam led the way with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and the Raptors shot 51 percent from the field while lapping the Sixers in the turnover battle with only nine giveaways.

The series continues on Thursday evening, with the Raptors aiming to put even more pressure on the Sixers if they can secure a home win. VanVleet’s status could be paramount for Game 6 but, at this stage, Philadelphia might be feeling the temperature rising, particularly with the well-documented history of teams led by Doc Rivers and some of the playoff issues suffered by the team a year ago in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.