Everyone on the Ballers team had the Toronto Raptors winning their first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Even though the Sixers probably don’t read our articles, but it felt like they heard us as they roared to a 69-51 lead in the first half. The Raptors’ biggest lead of the game was when the game was 3-0 after Fred VanVleet made a three to start the game, and then it was all Philadelphia after that.
They were buoyed by the quartet of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, James Harden, who all scored in double figures in the first half and combined for 56 points. Embiid, in particular, almost had a double-double at the half with 15 points and nine rebounds.
In contrast, the Raptors had trouble getting anyone going, with Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby having 11 and 10 points respectively as the only two to score in double figures.
The Raptors tried to make it more of a game in the second half, cutting the lead to 12 points a couple of times after the Sixers pushed it to as much as 24, but they had no answer for Tyrese Maxey. ‘On fire’ is not even a fair description of how he played, and he was unstoppable from any distance. He had 21 points in the third quarter alone.
Maxey finished the game with 38 points, four rebounds and two assists. He didn’t turn the ball over while doing all of this, and shot 14 of 21 from the field and 5 of 8 from deep.
With their second-year guard having such a big night, Embiid was happy to play a more supporting role, but still finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. Harden did a masterful job of orchestrating the offense with 22 points, five rebounds, 14 assists and one turnover.
Oh, and Harris had himself a pretty decent game too, with 26 points, six rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block.
The Sixers shot well overall, especially from deep, where they finished 16 of 32 (50%). You’re just not going to beat a team that shoots like that.
Things got even worse for the Raptors in the fourth quarter as rookie Barnes hurt his foot after an accidental collision with Embiid that had the Cameroonian stepping on Barnes’ foot while making a play in the paint. His foot was already overturned when Embiid’s 280 pounds came crashing into it.
Losing Barnes while they were already getting blown out hurts. He couldn’t put any weight on his foot and had to be helped off the court while tears of frustration streamed down his face.
This was a bit of a reality check for Toronto, who will now have to regroup after the 131-111 blowout. Without Barnes, their chances of winning this series drastically drop, even with Matisse Thybulle unavailable for all of the games in Canada.