Despite a late-game rally, the Toronto Raptors are now losers of three straight after falling 110-104 to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center Sunday night.
While the final score was close, the 76ers led by as many as 21 points, thanks to an impressive first-half display from Tobias Harris. For the Raptors, Kyle Lowry led the way with 26 points of his own while Pascal Siakam struggled to get going from the field.
Here are the key takeaways from today's game:
An off night for Siakam
Pascal Siakam entered the night averaging 25.0 points per game while shooting 46.4% from the field and 37.6% from beyond the arc, showing vast improvement after winning the league's Most Improved Player award in June.
He fell short of those averages vs. the Sixers.
In 36 minutes of action, Siakam scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds but ultimately just couldn't find his rhythm as he shot 7-for-18 (38.9%) from the field, missing all four of his 3-point attempts. This season, Siakam has emerged as the Raptors' leading scorer and undisputed No. 1 option, meaning this team goes as far as he can take it.
After his performance against the 76ers, the Raptors now fall to 1-5 on the season when Siakam scores 16 or fewer points while they are 8-1 when he scores his average of 25 points or more.
Defences will continue to key in on Siakam while working to neutralize or make him a non-factor in the game and while the absence of Fred VanVleet played a major role in tonight's outcome, teams appear to be forcing players outside of Toronto's No. 1 option to lead the way as OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry did in Philadelphia.
Ås indicated by his performance a week ago against the Jazz, Siakam knows how to bounce back from an off night; working in his favour is the fact that Toronto will be back in action in fewer than 24 hours as it heads to Chicago to take on the Bulls.
Tobias Harris takes charge
After a slow start to the season, Tobias Harris looks to have found his rhythm in the 76ers offence, recording his 10th 20-point game of the season.
Harris set the tone early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter on 4-for-6 shooting as the 76ers raced out to a 27-22 lead.
Harris constantly probed the Raptors defence in the pick-and-roll with Joel Embiid, knocking down a string of mid-range jumpers, before stepping back to the 3-point line. He finished with 26 points and six rebounds on 10-for-22 from the field and 4-for-8 from the 3-point line, leading by example all night.
"Honestly, we thought last game we should have came away with a victory at their place, so we wanted to come out here and we wanted to be aggressive on a back-to-back, we wanted to impose our will and we just wanted to win," Harris told NBC Sports Philly post-game.
"We'll continue every night progressing and tonight was a good step."
With Embiid held quiet (10 points, eight rebounds, seven turnovers), the 76ers needed every bit of Harris' offence.
Career night for rookie Thybulle
Matisse Thybulle continues to grow in confidence and tonight his contribution was key to the 76ers keeping the Raptors at bay.
The 22-year-old recorded a career-high 20 points, knocking down a career-high five 3-pointers in the win, beating the first-quarter buzzer with a clutch four-point play.
He added three assists and three steals on the night, with his presence on the defensive end algonside Ben Simmons giving the 76ers a long, athletic two-headed monster, perpetually triggering fast-breaks and transition opportunities.
Get up there rook!@MatisseThybulle | #PhilaUnite pic.twitter.com/R6AkPWBWA7- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 9, 2019
With most of his buckets coming from catch-and-shoot situations, if he can continue to provide a release valve from the 3-point line along with his already productive defence, Brett Brown looks to have found the spark off his bench that the 76ers depserately need.
Fred VanVleet exited Sunday's game in the second quarter after suffering a right knee contusion.
He played just 12 minutes on the night, with Kyle Lowry stepping up in his absence, with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists.
VanVleet bumped his knee against Houston. It was looked at between games and nothing came up. He was iffy to go tonight, just didn't respond well, so they got him out.- Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 9, 2019
The good news is, the injury does not appear to be major, with the Raptors visiting the Chicago Bulls tomorrow, before hosting Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
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