As TSN and Sportsnet continue to air every Raptors game from last year's road to the NBA title, we'll be featuring game recaps and other written content to transport you back in time for a complete experience of reliving the most memorable stretch of basketball in Toronto's history.
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This story was originally published on April 29, 2019.
The Philadelphia 76ers square the series at 1-1 after squeezing out a 94-89 win over the Toronto Raptors, their first win in Toronto since 2012.
Jimmy Butler led the way with 30 points and 11 rebounds, with four other Sixers scoring in double figures on the night.
For the Raptors, Kawhi Leonard followed up his huge Game 1 with 35 points, while Kyle Lowry added 20 and Pascal Siakam 21 on just 9-of-21 shooting.
With the 76ers' now holding home court advantage, here's four key takeaways from Game 2.
76ers lock in defensively
The 76ers defence got torched in Game 1 and it was clear adjustments were necessary.
They came out with completely different matchups, starting with Simmons on Leonard, Butler on Lowry, Harris sizing up Gasol, Embiid defending the quicker Siakam and Redick on Green.
Though Kawhi was still able to go for 35 points, Simmons still did a relatively good job on him and this new strategy appeared to have worked, holding the Raptors to their lowest scoring total in over three months.
Toronto was held to just 89 points, its first time being held under the 90-point mark since Dec. 28 against the Orlando Magic where they scored 87 points.
It was only their third time being held under 90 points this season.
On the flip side, it was just the second time this season Philly has held an opponent under 90. For perspective on how good the 76ers can be when they lock in on defence, they are 24-1 (regular season and playoffs) when they hold their opponent to 105 points or less.
They forced the Raptors to shoot 36-for-91 (36.3 percent) from the field and 10-for-37 (27.0 percent) from beyond the arc. Missing 55 shots in a game is less than ideal, but even more so when being out-rebounded 53-36.
It will be interesting to see if the Sixers stick to the same defensive game plan in Game 3 or if they try and adjust again to get Leonard's scoring total down.
Big time Jimmy Butler
The 76ers needed a big game from Jimmy Butler and that's exactly what they got!
The 76ers picked up their first win in Toronto since 2012 as Jimmy Butler joined Joel Embiid and Charles Barkley as the only @sixers players to post at least 30p/10r/5a in a playoff game in the last 40 years. #PhilaUnite- StatMuse (@statmuse) April 30, 2019
📊 https://t.co/x71ldEAJxU pic.twitter.com/UsQRZnbx6e
Butler was a force all game, but he saved his best for late, scoring 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, including this huge 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining to stretch the lead to 88-81:
Jimmy Butler (28 PTS) connects from downtown to put the @sixers up by 7!#PhilaUnite 88#WeTheNorth 81- NBA (@NBA) April 30, 2019
2:11 left on @NBAonTNT! pic.twitter.com/Luunp3eGju
The 76ers won this game on the defensive end, with Butler setting the tone as he hounded Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard down the stretch, a mindset he believes will be the key to getting past Toronto.
"Whenever we let our defence dictate our offence, we're such a great team, " Butler said in his on court interview post-game. "We can't let it be the other way around. As long as we don't turn the ball over and we guard, we give ourselves a chance to win every night."
His 30 points matched his points total from the last three games combined.
Philly fire in the first half
After the Raptors ran wild early in Game 1 with a 39-point first quarter, the 76ers allowed just 38 points in the first half with a much improved defensive performance.
Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam were held to just 22 points compared to the 49 they piled on in the first half of Game 1, with Brett Brown using his big men to stifle Siakam and limit his impact in the paint as well as his fast-break opportunities.
The 76ers held the Raptors to just 3-of-15 from the 3-point line, while knocking down eight triples of their own as they took a commanding 13-point lead into the break.
While Joel Embiid was held quiet, his teammates carried the load, with Jimmy Butler and James Ennis III getting hot early, combining for 25 first half points.
Jimmy Butler (13 PTS) and James Ennis III (12 PTS) combine for 25 first-half PTS as the @sixers lead Game 2! #PhilaUnite- NBA (@NBA) April 30, 2019
2nd half coming up on @NBAonTNT. pic.twitter.com/iMH9DWOJjO
The Sixers brought a renewed energy and effort in the first half, dominating the glass as they outrebounded the Raptors 33-13, creating a ton of extra possessions through sheer grit and determination, something that was sorely lacking in Game 1.
They had 14 assists on 16 made field goals in the first half and finished with 22 dimes on 30 made field goals.
76ers' bench makes a difference
All season the 76ers' biggest concern had been their second unit but in Game 2, they played a major role in levelling the series at one game apiece.
The Sixers' bench came out blazing hot thanks to 12 first-half points from James Ennis. The reserve forward buried a pair of 3-pointers and grabbed four rebounds to provide a major spark to his team's momentum.
Former Raptor Greg Monroe was the other key player off the bench, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds with three of those boards coming on the offensive glass.
The Sixers' bench outscored the quiet Raptors' bench 26-5.
This was one of the worst games all year from Toronto's second unit, converting just two field goals in the game for that grand total of five points.
Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Jodie Meeks shot a combined 2-for-11 from the field on their way to a combined plus/minus of minus-51.
Even though you cut down your rotation in the postseason, the Raptors' depth should still be a point of advantage in this series and with the way they were outplayed in this one, it gave the 76ers the perfect opportunity to steal one on the road.
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