After having a season-high eight-game win streak snapped by the Denver Nuggets Monday, the Toronto Raptors responded in a big way with a 113-102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
In addition to getting back on track, Toronto (21-5) improved its league-leading record and successfully snapped the Sixers' (17-9) four-game win streak.
Here are four takeaways from the Raptors' big win…
Taking Care of the Ball
Turnovers continue to plague the Sixers, whose 15.9 turnovers per game place them in the league's bottom-five.
Philadelphia set itself back with a poor second quarter in which the team committed 11 of its 21 turnovers on the night. The Raptors took full advantage of the Sixers' mishandling of the ball, scoring
Ben Simmons, who nearly recorded a triple-double with eight points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, committed a game-high seven turnovers while T.J. McConnell (five) and Joel Embiid (four) combined to commit nine of the team's other 14 turnovers.
Credit goes to the Raptors defence, who limited the Sixers offensive opportunities by drawing five offensive fouls and stealing the ball 12 times.
The Long Ball
While 3-point shooting has been a crucial indicator of each team's success this season, tonight was a deviation from the norm.
Entering Wednesday night's game, Toronto was a perfect 15-0 when shooting a higher 3-point percentage than its opponent, while Philadelphia was 9-2 when having a better 3-point shooting night than its opponent.
It was a poor shooting performance from both sides as both the Sixers (11-for-35, 31.4 percent) and Raptors (8-for-29, 27.6 percent) shot below their season average from deep. To take it a step further, Toronto was 3-for-23 from deep outside of Kawhi Leonard, yet it still found a way to win the game.
It's encouraging that the Raptors, a team that is reliant on its perimeter shooting, found a way to earn a win over a quality opponent despite an uncharacteristically poor shooting night. It emphasizes the fact that this team continues to find a way to win.
Kawhi vs. Jimmy
On Oct. 30, the Raptors earned a 17-point win over the Sixers behind a 31-point performance from star forward Kawhi Leonard. Just two weeks later, Philadelphia traded for a star forward of their own in Jimmy Butler.
In the first meeting between the Sixers and Raptors since the trade, the two All-Stars went back-and-forth, each leading the way for their respective teams on both ends of the floor.
Here's how they fared:
Kawhi finished the night with 36 points (on 13-24 shooting), nine rebounds and five steals in just over 35 minutes of action. Jimmy led the way for Philly with 38 points (on 15-for-27 shooting) and grabbed 10 rebounds in 38 minutes of action.
As these teams vie for supremacy in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, it will largely fall upon the shoulders of their respective closers. With two more regular-season meetings ahead, this won't be the last we see of their battles.
Behind 26 points from Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors reserves outscored the Sixers bench 41-18 for the game.
As the Raptors lead by just one point at the end of the third quarter, the bench can be credited with creating some separation in the fourth. Valanciunas, who played the entirety of the final frame was, of course, a plus-10 in the box score. The 7-footer had a monster fourth, scoring 18 points while shooting 6-for-10 from the field and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe.
Fred Vanvleet (plus-7 in 6:52), Delon Wright (plus-7 in 5:59) and C.J. Miles (plus-8 in 4:53) did their part in helping to build the team's lead. Sixers reserves Landry Shamet, T.J. McConnell and Mike Muscala were all negatives in the fourth.
As Toronto continues to shape its identity, it is helpful to be able to rely on the production of its reserves. Valanciunas' adaptability allows him to play in a starter or reserve role, which keeps opposing teams on their toes.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, needs more from its bench while it awaits the return of Markelle Fultz and the potential returns of newly-acquired Justin Patton and rookie Zhaire Smith.
In a seven-game series, depth oftentimes proves to a major key, as team's stars can rest without the threat of falling behind.