The Toronto raptors leveled their second-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers at 2-2 after a gritty 101-96 win at Wells Fargo Center.
TAKEAWAYS: Leonard scores 39 points as Raptors grind out Game 4 win
While Kawhi Leonard stole the headlines with a dominant 39-point performance, the Raptors big men turned in a strong display as Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol stepped up down the stretch, especially on the defensive end.
Late in the game, head coach Nick Nurse rolled out a lineup of Lowry/Kawhi/Siakam/Ibaka/Gasol, who used their size and length to bother the Sixers, who went seven minutes without a field goal in the fourth quarter.
"We were running some stuff tonight we've never run before with Marc and Serge and trying to figure out how to best use some of that stuff and we did just enough," Nurse said post-game.
"I think the biggest thing that I felt tonight was the rebounding."
Nah forreal though - the Lowry/Green/Leonard/Ibaka/Gasol lineup outscored 76ers 27-17 in Game 4. 31.1 net rating in 12 minutes. Held 76ers to 5-of-17 FGs with 3:5 assist-TO ratio https://t.co/dfKNly3Uhp- Law Murray 📵 (@LawMurrayTheNU) May 5, 2019
Through the first three games of the series, the Raptors were outrebounded by the Sixers by 33 (144-111), making the boards a much bigger focus in Game 4 (43-43).
With Pascal Siakam nursing a right calf contusion, Ibaka and Gasol filled the void playing strong defence against an under-the-weather Joel Embiid, who recorded 11 points on 2-for-7 shooting, his third lowest-scoring total this season and his lowest-scoring game in his 16 career playoff games.
"It just felt like we were getting pushed around a little bit in the last two games around the glass," Nurse added. "A lot of those times it would happen with our really small lineup, our Fred, Kyle, Norm, Pascal lineup and they were just throwing it up there, revving up their engines and flying into the rim and tonight we just had more athleticism and size and just looked that way and it kinda looked like the rebounds were affected by that, I think that was the biggest thing.
"We were looking at some options of how to combat some of the problems we were having and obviously that was entertained that Serge and Marc would play together."
Ibaka finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks while Gasol chipped in 16 points, five rebounds and three assists on the night.
"I just thought it was a different mentality tonight."- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 5, 2019
Raptors coach Nick Nurse on his team's bounce-back performance in Game 4 #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/tfaqhqHyBU
The big man duo hadn't spent a minute on court together through Games 1-3 but finished a +7 in 23 minutes on court together in Game 4. After today's performance, Nurse says we will likely see more of the veteran duo as the series heads back to Toronto.
Siakam, Ibaka and Gasol have played together for just seven minutes this season and playoffs. Big spot here.- Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) May 5, 2019
"I think we'll probably look at it again just because it helped us on the rebounding. It does help that they can both make them [three-pointers]. It was nice to see Marc take 'em and make a couple and keep taking them.
"Serge hopefully when we get back on our home floor will get dialled in a little bit. He had a couple threes that he took he can make those too. It'd be nice if he could throw one or two a game to, because again the penetration from whoever is going to draw a lot of help, as it should and those guys are kind of safety valves behind the arc and if they're all alone out there we want them to step in and take them, either one of them."