Raptors lose to 76ers 114-109 but help is on the way!

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Courtesy: raptors.com

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Quick Reaction

The Rapcast

The Raptors kicked off a four game homestand with a very respectable effort vs Philly that went down to the wire. The result still ended with an L on the board, however things seem to be heading back in the right direction after a difficult week. Some key notes below.

1.”P locked in”

Pascal Siakam looked like….well, Pascal Siakam. This was his first game since the Brooklyn overtime battle two weeks ago and he picked up where he left off. P Skills began the game with a dazzling display of midrange shots, found Chris Boucher (more on him later) curling into the paint for a flush for one of his eight assists, and then completely torched Georges Niang’s attempt to crowd him.

Siakam had 14 of his 28 points in the opening quarter. He’s gotten off to relatively quick starts all season, and currently ranks top 20 league wide in first quarter scoring. Fred VanVleet has been supportive of the team on twitter while waiting to clear protocols, especially towards the replacement players which is cool because we all know FVV’s story. It didn’t take long for Fred to start his analysis in this one.

Pascal played 42 (!!) minutes, which is a season-high for a regulation game. That’s not exactly ideal for someone coming out of Covid protocols, but thankfully he feels a lot better dealing with the virus the second time around. Nick Nurse hinted at the team finally being able to get a practice in today, which Siakam and Gary Trent Jr (41 mins in his return) aren’t expected to do much in.

2. Tampa Boucher?

Well damn. The previous game, Boucher had the Cavs broadcast literally laughing at his shots. This was easily his best performance of the season, starting with little things like the cut that Siakam found him on above, and making things happen out of nowhere.

Four of Boucher’s career-high tying 19 rebounds came on the offensive end. That had to spark his confidence, because in the second half, Chris found that Tampa range that had people perplexed and amazed last season.

Boucher made FIVE threes. His season-high coming into this game was TWO. He’s still only shooting 25 percent behind the arc this season (down from 38), but for the time being take that Austin Carr! Trent only shot 6-for-24 but he found Boucher for a couple of them, on way to a career-high tying seven assists. The Raptors played numerous stretches without a point guard, so Gary’s willingness to make the extra passes (including hockey assists) was great to see.

Boucher was asked about staying away from people and not catching Covid after the game:

“I’ve been doing that since before the bubble, I don’t go out. You guys know I stream a lot, so that’s probably the reason I didn’t get it. I’m not gonna jinx myself, but it definitely helped out.” Boucher said.

I’m sorry, but that was a Lonzo Ball-esque quote. Please god, no.

3. Processing The Process

Joel Embiid started the season a little slow by his standards, but he’s back to MVP level form. He’s averaging 29 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in December. He’s one of the Raptors true matchup nightmares because nobody can level up size wise. Yuta Watanabe got a technical foul in frustration trying to guard him in a third quarter where Embiid had 15 points, seven of which came from the free throw line.

Embiid was clutch in the fourth quarter too. After Boucher’s fifth trey made it a 103-100 game, Embiid simply faced up Chris at the three point line with the shot clock running out, jab stepped twice, and then delivered a back breaking three. When the Raptors took a 109-108 lead under a minute left, Embiid grabbed an offensive board and laid it in to give Philly the lead for good. He had 36 points and 11 rebounds, and is the first Sixer to score 30-plus in six straight road games since Allen Iverson in 2006.

Now let’s talk about how Embiid closed out the game defensively in the last 40 seconds:

  • Guards Trent way behind the arc, forcing a tough missed three.
  • Picks up Trent on a drive, resulting in a tough layup attempt and another miss
  • Trent vs Embiid the trilogy: Originally starts a trap with Matisse Thybulle 30 feet from the rim, then as Thybulle moves away to play a potential pass to Siakam, Embiid crowds GTJ. The pass is deflected off Pascal out of bounds, which was rightfully corrected to Sixers ball after a challenge.

That’s all folks. Embiid is a two-way monster and showed why he’s been on the All-Defence team three times in the most crucial part of the game.

4. The New Guys

Tremont Waters played some first half minutes until Nurse decided on bigger guard lineups. Daniel Oturu had an impressive chase down block on Tyrese Maxey, and then ripped the ball away from Embiid. Later, Oturu blocked Embiid. He only played six minutes, but those two plays were great.

D.J. Wilson may be a keeper. He had five steals in his Raptors debut, something that only Alvin Robertson and Kyle Lowry have done. Wilson didn’t play in the first half because he had to clear protocols according to Nurse, but made a nice contribution in the second half. Nurse elected to have Wilson in the game instead of Malachi Flynn for good reason. Wilson had nine points (5-6 from the line) and six boards in 13 minutes and was simply solid. This is the great side of the hardship signings. Even if the Raptors decide not to keep him, Wilson is only helping his cause, showing other teams how he can help them.

Sidenotes

Tobias Harris recorded his first career triple-double (19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists).

Danny Green (protocols) didn’t play. His next potential trip to Toronto is April 7th. Will the man FINALLY receive his 2019 championship ring in front of the fans like he wishes?

What’s Next?

Game two of the homestand brings in a heavily depleted Clippers team on New Years Eve to wrap up 2021.

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