The Philadelphia 76ers have snapped the Toronto Raptors' four-game win streak by earning a 109-102 win on Tuesday night.
Led by 23 points from Tobias Harris, Philadelphia built a big cushion early on and Toronto was unable to get over the hump despite mounting a number of impressive rallies in the second half, including a late fourth-quarter push that resulted in a wild finish.
For more on how it went down, here are some thoughts from the game…
1. A red-hot start for Philadelphia
The Sixers came out of the gates firing, creating quite the advantage in the opening frame.
Led by Furkan Korkmaz, who scored 16 points on 4-for-6 shooting, the Sixers scored 37 points in the first quarter while shooting 12-for-24 (50.0 percent) from the field, including 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
Man is up to 16 points after 12 minutes.- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 24, 2021
📺 @NBCSPhilly | @FurkanKorkmaz pic.twitter.com/Bzr4dT2WRh
It was a bit uncharacteristic, considering the Sixers entered the game hitting just 10.3 3s per contest. They finished the night shooting 17-for-38 (44.7 percent) from beyond the arc, a major factor in this one.
2. Toronto's ice-cold opener
As hot as the Sixers were, the Raptors were just as cold.
Toronto scored just 18 points in the first quarter after shooting 7-for-22 (31.8 percent) from the field and 2-for-8 (25.0 percent) from beyond the arc. Norman Powell kept the Raps afloat by shooting 2-for-3 from the field (all 3s) while the rest of the team went 0-for-5 from deep and 4-for-19 from the field.
Fred VanVleet, who scored four points (on 2-for-7 shooting) saw his struggles continue past the first…
3. An off shooting night for VanVleet
It was an especially off night for VanVleet
After hitting two field goals in the first frame, VanVleet failed to connect from the field in the second or third quarter, entering the final frame having shot 2-for-12 (16.6 percent) from the field and 0-for-3 from deep.
In the fourth, VanVleet got back on the board, knocking down two triples to extend his streak of games with at least one made 3-pointer to 64. He would finish the game with 12 points (on 4-for-14 shooting), eight rebounds and eight assists.
Note that I said it was just an off shooting night, as VanVleet still grabbed rebounds and dished out assists. Oh, and he finished with four blocks and two steals.
As NBA.com's Scott Rafferty noted, dribble around VanVleet at your own risk.
4. The Raptors defence slows Embiid, again
After forcing a rough shooting performance on Sunday, the Raptors continued to make life difficult for MVP candidate Joel Embiid.
Whether it was sending a double team or physical help-side rotations, Toronto's defence made sure that it was both felt and seen by Embiid at all times. Philly's All-Star finished the night with an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double but shot just 3-for-13 from the field.
To put it plainly, Toronto just held the league's second-leading scorer to 9-for-33 (27.3 percent) shooting over a two-game span. Being able to play such defence against Embiid is reassurance that this small-ball personnel can work regardless of who is on the opposite end.
Tonight also marked the first game since Jan. 14 that Embiid finished with less than 25 points.
5. Toronto's defence figures it out… the offence does not
After a porous effort in the first quarter, the Raptors' defence looked like itself for the remainder of the game.
Over the final three quarters, the Sixers scored 72 points while shooting 21-for-56 (37.5 percent) from the field and committed 16 turnovers, a testament to an increase in Toronto's defensive intensity. On the offensive end, however, the Raptors picked things up from an efficiency standpoint but there were a number of lulls that kept the team from overcoming the hump.
Considering Toronto trailed by as many as 21 points, it couldn't afford any offensive lulls past the first quarter.
6. All-Star snubs?
About a half an hour before this one tipped, reserves for the 2021 All-Star Game were named. Among notable omissions were Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and Sixers forward Tobias Harris.
While it was a rough outing for VanVleet, Harris again looked like every bit of an All-Star, something that his head coach Doc Rivers acknowledged before selections were announced.
Harris finished the night with 23 points on tidy 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) shooting to go along with seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Given the fact that Philly maintains its hold of the East's top seed, Harris' missing out on an All-Star bid could look even more questionable with time.
7. What's next?
It's a very quick turnaround for the Raptors, who travel to Miami to face the heat on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN in the Bell Game of the Week. Only five games remain for the Raptors in the first half of the 2020-21 season, which will come to a break next week.
The Sixers return home to host the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, Feb. 25. Philly has just four games remaining until the All-Star Break.
More analysis to come.
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