The Playoffs – The Sixers beat the Raptors in the last second to open the series 3-0

On Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Toronto Raptors 104-101 at Scotiabank Arena. The game was the Canadian franchise’s first home in the series. Moreover, it was the first of these playoffs that reached overtime. With the triumph, Doc Rivers’ side opened 3-0, needing just one win to advance to the next round. Toronto arrived at the game without rookie Scottie Barnes, an important piece in scoring Joel Embiid, in addition to Thaddeus Young with a toe injury. Even with the win, the Sixers are down 17 points, the first time the team has overcome a more than 15-point playoff gap since 2012.

For this, the visitors counted on a good performance from Embiid. The Cameroonian had a double-double of 33 points, 13 rebounds and two assists. James Harden also recorded a double-double, with 19 points and 10 assists, in addition to six rebounds. Tyrese Maxey continued to do well in the series, scoring 19 points and grabbing four rebounds.

For the Raptors, OG Anunoby was the team’s all-time leading scorer with 26 points, along with five rebounds and four assists. Gary Trent Jr. had 24 points and two steals, and off the bench, Precious Achiuwa contributed 20 points and six rebounds.

THE GAME

The game started with Khem Birch scoring from halfway, with Toronto scoring six straight points. On the other side, the visitors started with several turnovers from Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, until Harden reached the perimeter. In that start, both teams failed to find their rhythm, missing back-to-back shots.

In the second half of the period, the home team used their advantage in rebounds to maintain a small lead. With Embiid well-marked inside, the Raptors forced the Cameroonian four fouls, but also allowed more freedom on the three-ball. Both teams began to show good shooting efficiency, and with good defense inside, the home team built an eight-point lead.

With Chris Boucher and George Niang trading three-point shots, OG Anunoby strikes again from the perimeter to bring the Raptors back into double digits. Thus, the first quarter ended 29-19 for the Canadian franchise. This span was a good start for the long range teams, with Philadelphia scoring 15 of their three points and the home side having 12 from long range.

The duel continued with the teams picking up the pace, including the Raptors. Thanks to the aggressiveness of Precious Achiuwa, the team scored six points in the first minute, increasing their lead to 15 points. After Maxey layed up early in the period, the Sixers went two minutes without scoring, giving the opponents a chance to increase the score.

With Harden in the lead, the visitors seemed to have found their groove. But a series of turnovers and forced fouls out of three stagnated the attack. However, Philadelphia cut the scoreboard gap in half.

With Maxey and Harden on the court together, the Sixers showed more offensive dynamics, but due to the high efficiency of perimeter opponents, the advantage increased again. Due to further errors from Doc Rivers’ side and a replay from the hosts, the teams headed to the locker room with the score 56-46 for Toronto.

Back on the court, Harden quickly scored on a lay-up and Embiid on a pitch. For managers, Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. grabbed offensive possessions. While the Sixers’ stars came to control the team’s offense, the Raptors had the supporting players as their primary collaborators. Thus, the visiting All-Stars came to reduce the gap to a single point.

Thus, Fred VanVleet even appeared in the last two minutes of the fourth, but Embiid began to dominate the lane, taking advantage of the rebounds and being aggressive. With that, the fourth ended in the tightest gap, with the Raptors leading 75-74.

In the fourth final, the hosts arrived with great attacking intensity in the hands of Achiuwa and Anunoby. But Tobias Harris showed versatility and left the opposing advantage in possession of the ball. After such an opening streak, Toronto went more than three minutes without scoring, forcing perimeter errors. Thus, with Embiid, the visitors tied the fight.

From this point on, the game began to be driven by balance, with teams exchanging baskets.

The Raptors took the lead at the last minute, but a Harden free throw tied the game. With 30 seconds left, Achiuwa headed for the free throw line but missed both. The Sixers’ turn to kill the game, Embiid missed three and Harris missed a hook after offensive rebounds. Thus, regulation time ended at 95 ties, heading into the first overtime of these playoffs.

Extra time started with Maxey and Trent Jr. trading baskets. The Philadelphia point guard and Embiid scored again in the midrange, while Anunoby struck from the perimeter. With the teams failing to score for almost two minutes, Anunoby tied the game with a free throw with 26 seconds left.

However, MVP contender Joel Embiid hit a three-ball after Danny Green’s throw-in to put the Sixers ahead with less than a second, ending the game 104-101 to leave Philadelphia 3-0 in the series.

NEXT GAME

Now, the Sixers’ first chance to end the streak comes in Saturday’s game (23), with the duel continuing on Canadian soil.

Photo: Copy Twitter/Phialdelphia 76ers

Laura Davis

"Total troublemaker. Alcohol aficionado. Social media specialist. Friendly travel nerd."

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