Quick Reaction: 76ers 112, Raptors 90

The Raptors make a second-half push, but ultimately drop one to the Embiid-less 76ers.

The Rap Up has Adon and Zarar.

Box Score
O. Anunoby36 MIN, 19 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 7-16 FG, 2-7 3FG, 3-5 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -12 +/-

Even when everything was crumbling around him, Anunoby was the defence’s lux in tenebris. He swallowed opponents one-on-one, stifled whomever he switched onto, picked off passes in the lane, and hustled back for a brow-raising block in one of the team’s few impressive transition stops. Throw in some coordinated layups on the move and much-needed rebounding, and it was an excellent night for Anunoby.

S. Barnes29 MIN, 13 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 4-7 FG, 3-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -21 +/-

While he’s clearly powering through his right ankle sprain, Barnes continues to be a positive contributor for the Raptors offensively. In particular, he’s one of the team’s best connectors, keeping the ball moving on possessions where it could easily stagnate. He’s also been one of Toronto’s best answers when faced with zone, able to create advantages operating from just inside the key.

P. Siakam36 MIN, 26 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 9-15 FG, 1-3 3FG, 7-9 FT, 0 BLK, 5 TO, -7 +/-

What can you say about Siakam at this point? He’s been miraculous to start the season, building on his All-NBA finish to last year, and that continued in tonight’s second matchup against the 76ers. Philly learned its lesson about leaving him open at the perimeter, and so Siakam was back to attacking the paint, working whomever picked him up down low, twisting and swerving for layups and forcing his way to the free throw line. For considerable stretches, Siakam was the only Raptors player creating advantages in this one.

G. Trent Jr.33 MIN, 14 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 6-15 FG, 2-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -25 +/-

Along with VanVleet, Trent struggled somewhat in this one. While his shot was a bit erratic, it was on the other end where most of the issues occurred. Toronto’s perimeter players just couldn’t stop penetration at the point of attack, and GTJ was a part of that. This isn’t to say he wasn’t giving effort, though—he busted his tail on a number of possessions.

F. VanVleet34 MIN, 1 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 0-11 FG, 0-8 3FG, 1-3 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -19 +/-

VanVleet is a brilliant player, but tonight was his worst performance in some time. He had difficulty containing opponents along the perimeter, couldn’t hit shots that are typically money for him (even open catch-and-shoots!), and generally seemed uncomfortable. He even departed to the locker room for a brief part of the second quarter. Whatever’s going on with him, the Raptors will hope he can shake it off quickly.

P. Achiuwa15 MIN, 0 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-6 FG, 0-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -10 +/-

It was a quiet night for Achiuwa in almost every respect. Like many of his teammates, he seemed caught up in the defensive confusion of a quickly altered game plan. He was better in the second half, helping Toronto put together some stops, but ultimately couldn’t conjure the lift needed.

C. Boucher22 MIN, 8 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3-6 FG, 1-2 3FG, 1-3 FT, 3 BLK, 1 TO, -8 +/-

Boucher was the first Raptors player off the bench to score tonight, and for a moment it looked like he might be the only one. Despite not providing much individual offensive punch, his presence in the first quarter did help erase an early lead, and his energy in the second half was palpable, even when it wasn’t coalescing into direct results.

D. Banton09 MIN, 4 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -1 +/-

Banton didn’t play a lot of minutes, and he wasn’t particularly impactful in them, either. The lack of shooting punch was noticeable here.

T. Young05 MIN, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

After falling out of the rotation for a couple games, Young reappeared tonight as Nurse was attempting to jolt some energy into his club. Not much came of it, however.

C. Koloko10 MIN, 3 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 1-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

Koloko is a rookie, and so on certain nights and even certain possessions, he will very much look like a rookie. That happened tonight, true, but he also showed more flashes of what he could ideally become as a legitimate rim-running, shot blocking centre. I continue to be pleased with his performances, and getting real rotation minutes at this stage is a positive for his development.

M. Flynn05 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-

Aside from his garbage time stint, Flynn only entered the game during a chaotic second quarter, when the Raptors were reeling from Maxey-led haymakers. Nurse was, certainly, trying to search for some answers, some life, but it didn’t come from Flynn. It’s important to keep in mind, however, just how difficult being thrown into a situation like that can be, especially when you haven’t been able to build a rhythm for yourself to this point.

Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors are struggling with quick guards at the point of attack. This has been a recurring theme through six games, whether it be Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Tyler Herro, or Tyrese Maxey. They have all been able to penetrate Toronto’s defence from the top the arc, create rotation, and ultimately drive positive results via scoring themselves or dishing off to teammates for an eventual open look.
  2. No Joel Embiid? No problem. Maxey was a flamethrower tonight (starting a volcanic 10-10 from the floor), and while a bunch of his looks were indeed open, some of them certainly weren’t—i.e. his initial triple of the game, which came in the corner with VanVleet right in his grill. While there are things the Raptors could have done better to deal with Maxey (they did contain him better in the second half), sometimes you just have to tip your hat to an explosive performance.
  3. Anunoby is now on record: “I feel like I’ve been a great defender. So I want to get recognition now.” Well, if he continues to play like this, it will be nigh impossible to ignore him come awards time. Few players in the league are capable of doing what Anunoby did in this game—guarding (well!) at multiple positions, blowing up plays with expert timing and ferocity. Despite Siakam’s typically brilliant output, the Raptors would’ve been facing a massive early deficit had Anunoby’s defence not been at an All-NBA level.

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