Quick Reaction: Raptors 97, Sixers 112 – Philly Lead Series 2-0

Philly is trying to avoid us, they said.

Rap Up is LIVE talking the game right now:

Box Score

P. Siakam41 MIN, 20 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 7-20 FG, 0-1 3FG, 6-7 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -23 +/-

All-NBA? I’d settle for him being a top 5 player in this series. Passive in his approach, detached from the offense and showing an unwillingness to take control.  Minimal impact on the game. There was this one play in the third where he was matched up against Danny Green and instead of punishing the weaker defender, opted for Boucher to take a deep three (which he missed). It was a microcosm of what’s wrong with his offensive game, which shrunk as the occasion heightened. It came as no surprise that the Raptors looked best when they were pushing the ball with Siakam on the bench in the fourth. Samson covered what Siakam needed to do in this game. I don’t think he did that.

P. Achiuwa29 MIN, 7 PTS, 6 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 3-8 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -24 +/-

His growth as a player continues. He defended Embiid well, took people off the bounce and always had a high compete-level. It’s unfair to harp on his offensive game considering who he’s guarding, but even then his spacing, positioning, and movement are well-suited to good offensive play. The problem is that the Raptors have nobody with the vision to employ his movements and cuts to good use.

O. Anunoby38 MIN, 26 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 10-14 FG, 4-7 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -14 +/-

Yes, he sometimes turns the ball over in the post, but much more often than not, he poses a matchup problem which the Raptors can exploit, especially since he’s a willing passer out of the block. The Raptors used him in the block early against Harden with decent results, but went away from him in the second quarter, reducing OG to a bit player looking for scraps on the tail end of a clock. Finally got some dedicated touches in the third and fourth in mostly 1v1 situations and made excellent decisions and produced. Overall, OG offensive potential remains untapped, and he’s only looked at as an option when everything else hasn’t worked. That has to change. This guy can ball and we got to give him a chance to.

F. VanVleet44 MIN, 20 PTS, 4 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 7-23 FG, 5-16 3FG, 1-2 FT, 2 BLK, 4 TO, -17 +/-

Huge first quarter with 15 points but you knew it was going to taper off as it did in the second where he only had 2. He missed a ton of wide open threes in the second, which coincided with Philly going on a run, and much like Game 1, Maxey going off. His lack of height prevents him from making crisp passes in high-screen situations, and he ends up lobbing the ball to Siakam or Achiuwa, which takes precious time off the clock, slowing the offense down. Given that the Raptors don’t have a pick ‘n roll game, this puts even more pressure on guys to create off the bounce and Philly is ready for that. Check his usage rate. That ain’t a point guard looking to get his team going.

G. Trent Jr.10 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-

This was essentially a continuation of Game 1 for him where he missed everything and then got benched. Not to pick on his defense since everyone’s was poor, but the Trent that was a shining beacon of our perimeter defense has withered away into a guy who can’t even get the angles right, let alone the foot speed.

T. Young8 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -11 +/-

Came into hit a hook shot but didn’t get much run. I’m not sure why, but I suppose Nurse opted for size in Boucher/Birch which is a fair bet.

C. Boucher30 MIN, 17 PTS, 8 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 8-13 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, -1 +/-

There were so many problems in the starting five that railing on guys like Boucher seems pointless. His individual play would have been considered acceptable if our starters had done what they were supposed to do. All I can evaluate him on is his effort and hustle, which were good. He was also part of that fourth quarter lineup that made the run to (sort of) get us back into it, though the deficit never reached single digits. He did miss a key shot at 5:47 which ended up being the start of the end of the fourth quarter run.

K. Birch19 MIN, 5 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2-3 FG, 1-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +9 +/-

OK, what is with this madness where we switch Khem Birch onto a guard 24 feet out? How is that possibly a good idea in any sort of defensive configuration? Must we switch every time to the point where Philly can just pick out the matchup they want simply by anticipating the Raptors to switch every time? I honestly don’t even know how to grade Birch because I’m not sure that other than setting good screens (which we don’t end up even using), what he does. To be fair, he finally had some good rolls to the rim in the fourth for a couple finishes.

M. Flynn21 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-4 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +8 +/-

Came into the game midway through the first and did a decent job of putting Maxey in front of him, but in terms of point guard play, very poor. He sometimes dribbles away from where the action is developing, and has to reorient himself to get the set going. Again, the lack of a pick ‘n roll has him looking to beat defenders off the bounce, which is not ideal given that we’re usually in a half-court offense and Philly is defensively set up. Gets a bump in the grade for being part of the 4Q lineup.

Nick Nurse

Much like Game 1, I’m finding it hard to criticize the coach because of the injuries, lack of bench options, and how his star players have performed. Having said all that, I think he has to think about making much better use of OG and doing a much better job of exploiting Hardens’ defensive weaknesses. Right now Harden isn’t paying any price and that has to change.

Given that Philly is hitting their outside shots and moving the ball well, the zone as a wholesale option becomes less reliable, and he hasn’t been able to come up with anything that can stifle Philly as a unit. Perhaps individuals in stretches, but definitely not as a unit.

Things We Saw

  1. Credit to the lineup of OG, Bucher, Flynn, Birch and Fred to cut a 29 point deficit to 11 in the fourth quarter, only to run out of gas. It was a 20-2 in 5:49.
  2. The Raptors aren’t getting the calls they used to get in the regular season because, you know, it’s the playoffs and in the playoffs the refs tighten their whistle and star players get calls. We don’t have star players with reputations and Philly does, hence the free throw and foul disparity. Are the refs crap? No doubt. Is it the reason we lost? No.
  3. Philly again dominated us on the break 22-10, though the Raptors did force 16 turnovers. However, many of them were dead ball situations which doesn’t allow the Raptors to run. And also, Doc Rivers isn’t an idiot and the Raptors can’t really surprise anyone by pushing the ball. We are pretty much a one-trick pony on offense and Rivers, given the chance to prepare for a series instead of a one-off game, can anticipate that quite easily.
  4. Here is Tyrese Maxey’s assist distribution. He’s not just scoring, but he’s getting everyone involved out there:
  5. The Raptors lineups and +/-:Check out Fred playing a straight 31 minutes stretch, which speaks to just how imbalanced the roster is.
  6. Turns out when you have lots of 6’9″ guys they have trouble guarding actual guards who can blow by them. No amount of length can make up for that. No matter how well you defend the passing lanes, if the defense is collapsed or stretched, good NBA players will find the open man, and Philly did just that. It’s early in this experiment.

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