Toronto Raptors

Eight thoughts as Fred VanVleet comes up clutch to lift Raptors over 76ers

The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers had a battle at the Wells Fargo Center, but it was the Raptors who came out on top.

The contest was highlighted by the duel between Fred VanVleet and Tyrese Maxey, who both scored over 30 points in the contest. OG Anunoby came up with a clutch stretch of plays in the final moments, first finding Gary Trent Jr. on a huge 3-pointer, then finding VanVleet on a dagger 3 to close out the game.

For more on this back-and-forth game, we have you covered with some thoughts below.

1. Fred VanVleet carries the offence

VanVleet eclipsed his scoring total from Wednesday's game against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter alone against the 76ers. The Raptors floor general got out to a roaring start, scoring 15 points while going 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the first frame. Also dishing out three assists, VanVleet was responsible for 21 of the team's 27 first-quarter points.

The Raptors offence looked stagnant again at times in this one and VanVleet was doing everything he could to carry the load. You could see that fatigue already setting in after his big first quarter, orchestrating everything on the offensive end.

He was able to power through, coming up clutch for the Raptors when they needed him most. VanVleet hit one of the biggest shots of the game, knocking down a corner 3-ball in the waining seconds to give Toronto a four-point lead it wouldn't surrender.

VanVleet finished with 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds and six 3-pointers to lead the Raptors to victory.

2. Chris Boucher delivers his best performance of the season

With Siakam sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back, Precious Achiuwa was slotted into the starting lineup with Boucher becoming the first big man off the bench.

It hasn't been the most memorable start to the season for Boucher, but playing time hasn't been very consistent either. The Canadian center was only averaging 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game heading into this contest, seeing his playing time cut in half in comparison to his Most Improved Player of the Year-candidate season a year ago.

Boucher certain made a case for more playing time after this one, bringing the energy and a scoring punch off the bench. He played a season-high 24 minutes, going for 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks off the bench.

In fact, as TSN's Josh Lewenberg pointed out, Boucher had more points in this contest than he did in his last five (!) games combined.

It was a timely performance by Boucher.

3. Tyrese Maxey stepping up

What a season it has been so far for the second-year guard Maxey. Stepping into a starting point guard role because of the absence of All-Star Ben Simmons, Maxey has maximized his opportunity to the fullest and that didn't change in this game.

Maxey was scoring with ease all night, but he was at his best in the fourth quarter. The 21-year-old poured in 15 points in the game's final frame, nearly willing the 76ers to a victory. He finished with 33 points, five assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal, one of his best performances of the season.

It was an impressive showing from the No. 21 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scoring in a variety of ways. His pull-up jumper was on the mark, he flashed a deadline floater in the lane and had some aggressive buckets when he got downhill.

Averaging 15.8 points, 4.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 49.0 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3, Maxey has been a savior for Philly.

4. OG Anunoby comes up clutch down the stretch

He may not get capture the headlines because he wasn't the one that hit the big shots, but Anunoby set the table for the Raptors to come away with the win.

He had a slick kick-out pass to find Trent in the corner, teeing up a massive 3-pointer to give Toronto a one-point lead with just over a minute to go. Anunoby then came up with a stop on Andre Drummond and delivered a strike to VanVleet on the dagger 3-pointer that sealed the game.

To end any hopes of a 76ers comeback, Anunoby came up with another stop, this time on Tobias Harris, then knocked down a pair of free throws to ice the game.

It was one heck of a stretch for the rising star forward.

5. Another flash of Scottie Barnes' development

This may just look like a simple highlight clip, but Raptors fans should be very excited about this.

Barnes takes a handoff from VanVleet, sizes up his defender with a couple dribbles and then gets into a stepback midrange jumper and buries it. And it looked smooth, too.

It was another noteworthy performance for Barnes, who finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. It's safe to say the Raptors got that pick right.

MORE: The early returns on Barnes couldn't be better

6. Tobias Harris' return

The 76ers have been hit hard by coronavirus health and safety protocols, but they returned one of their star players from the COVID list in this one. After a fantastic start to the season, Harris was forced to miss six consecutive games after catching the virus. He made his presence felt immediately in his first game back, picking up right where he left off as a scorer and playmaker.

Harris tallied 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, doing a little bit of everything for the 76ers. Despite his previous absence, Harris played 37 minutes in his first game back, an encouraging sign as he looks to get his wind back.

7. Pascal Siakam's absence

As expected, the Raptors All-Star forward did not play on the second night of a back-to-back as part of his left shoulder injury management. Siakam returned from offseason shoulder surgery on Sunday, Nov. 7 against the Brooklyn Nets, going for 15 points, four rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal. He wasn't as crisp in the team's loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, tallying eight points on only seven shots, but he did have seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

It's going to take time for Siakam to return to his usual form, but averaging 27.5 minutes over his first two games is certainly a step in the right direction.

Siakam will be back in the lineup for Saturday's contest against the Detroit Pistons.

8. What's next?

The Raptors will have one day off before they return home to Scotiabank Arena for a matchup against Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, Nov. 13. This marks Toronto's final home game before it takes off for a six-game road trip.

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