Postseason Bell Ringer Recipients
What ever happened to Toronto’s propensity for losing Game Ones in the playoffs? The Raptors looked like world-beaters Saturday night, dominating the Sixers in a not-even-that-close 108-95 defeat for the road team. During the first quarter, the Raptors went over six minutes without missing a shot, draining 13 straight field goals to score 39 points in the opening period. Kawhi Leonard looked every bit the part of the playoff superstar that once outdueled prime LeBron James in an NBA Finals, scoring a playoff career-high 45 points on 16-of-23 shooting and 10-of-11 from the foul line. His teammate Pascal Siakam was no slouch either, going 12-of-15 from the field for 29 points.
The good news is it was just one game in a seven-game series. Let’s focus on the few bright spots and select a Sixers Bell Ringer.
Ben Simmons: 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers
If you had to focus on one positive from Saturday night’s defeat, it would be Ben Simmons having a terrific offensive performance in what had been a very tough matchup for him during the regular season. Simmons finished 7-of-8 from the field, an especially impressive stat considering Kawhi Leonard was on him for a significant portion of the game. Ben picked his spots well, taking advantage of the few transition opportunities available to the Sixers, and driving into the lane for short hooks in the paint. He moved well off the ball and remained active as a cutter and screener.
Defensively, when he was moved onto Leonard, I think Kawhi went from shooting 95 percent to maybe 75 percent (not official stats). That’s probably the assignment Philadelphia will have to run with going forward, as Butler was too small and Harris was much too passive.
Ben Simmons is up to 14 points on 7/8 shooting. Strong, aggressive moves to the rim like this will be essential throughout the series. Nice score on Siakam here pic.twitter.com/OWTi5WJjXD— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) April 28, 2019
JJ Redick: 17 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers
With Marc Gasol putting the clamps on Joel Embiid, the Sixers’ half court offense often resorted to waiting for JJ Redick to run through enough screens to find a sliver of daylight on the perimeter. Redick attempted 12 shots from behind the arc, three more than any of his games during the first-round series against Brooklyn. He hit five of those long balls, getting hot for a couple stretches in the middle of the game when the Sixers were able to close the deficit to within one or two possessions.
Redick was also responsible for the first “bad blood” of the series, getting whacked in the face by Danny Green and having to stuff his mouth with gauze on the sidelines. Curiously, JJ was called for the foul on the play, and then received a tech arguing the call. Overall, Redick did just fine defensively, and with his hot shooting and team-high 17 points, was certainly a net-positive for the Sixers on a night when such performances were in short supply.
James Ennis: 11 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover
On a night when Furkan Korkmaz was shockingly picked off the scrap heap to play regular rotation minutes and Boban Marjanovic was proven to be unplayable in this matchup, Ennis at least made some nice plays off the bench. He finished 4-of-5 from the field, hitting a corner 3, getting fouled on another (which prompted what felt like Kyle Lowry’s 20th incredulous complaint to a ref on an obvious call or no-call), and roasting Jodie Meeks on a drive. The Sixers will be perfectly content with similar performances from Ennis throughout the rest of this series.
Who is your Bell Ringer for Game 1 in Toronto?
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