Postseason Bell Ringer Recipients
After leading by as many as 19 points in the first half, the Sixers saw their lead trimmed to a single point inside the final minute of the game. However, Joel Embiid drove the lane and finished down low to make it a 3-point game, and on the ensuing Toronto possession, a mad scramble somehow led to Danny Green getting a good look at a potential game-tying 3 that mercifully went off the mark. The Sixers held on for the 94-89 victory, and now head back to Philadelphia for Thursday’s Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece.
Jimmy Butler: 30 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers
With all due respect to Robert Covington and Dario Saric, tonight is why you make the trade for Jimmy Butler. With the Sixers looking to have hit on an effective defensive strategy against the Raptors, the question became whether the team could manufacture enough offense in what became a supremely physical, grind-it-out affair in the second half. You know who lives for creating shots out of nothing, no matter the stage? Jimmy Butler.
In what was the third 20-10 game of his postseason career, Butler eventually dropped a 30-spot, coming up with key baskets whenever he was called upon throughout the game. Game 2 was the first game in his career, regular season or postseason, that Butler had double-digit 3-point attempts (he finished 4-of-10). In the first half, he was responsible for a rare 5-point possession, sinking a 3 while getting fouled by Danny Green, only to see Green argue the call and also pick up a tech. The sequence helped the Sixers build an 18-point cushion, which they would eventually need every bit of as the game progressed.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Lyanna Mormont declared Butler the new King in the North, as Jimmy Buckets went off for 12 points and three assists in the period, making big play after big play, including a huge and-one in transition to stretch the lead back to double digits midway through the fourth quarter. With about three minutes left, Butler scored seven points on three straight possessions, then had the wherewithal not to force the issue in the closing moments with the Sixers ahead by just a single point. Instead, facing one of the few times Toronto was able to bottle him up, Butler kicked it out to Joel Embiid and trusted his teammate to make a play.
Add in the fact that Butler also played tenacious defense throughout the game, bouncing back from an underwhelming Game 1, and it was an all-around exemplary performance from the star wing.
James Ennis: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 0 turnovers
I did not think the Sixers would have the best performance from a bench player during both games in Toronto, but thanks to James Ennis III, here we are. Once again, Ennis made all the right decisions in collecting his playoff career-high 13 points. He took open 3s when they presented themselves, and drove to the basket to earn trips to the free throw line. Defensively, it was a valuable cog in the Sixers’ constant whirring rotation to try and make Toronto’s secondary and tertiary options beat Philadelphia as much as possible. People (probably rightly) get on Elton Brand for not fleshing out the bench, but the Ennis acquisition has proven to be everything the Sixers could have hoped for in these playoffs.
Greg Monroe: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 turnover
For the second straight game in this second round, the Sixers had a complete surprise enter the rotation. This time, it was Greg Monroe, who fared much better than Furkan Korkmaz did in the series opener. Monroe looked fairly agile in both clogging the lane and recovering to the perimeter defensively, and did some damage on short rolls to the basket and crashing the offensive glass. He played such good defense on a Kyle Lowry drive that Nick Nurse assumed it had to be a foul (it wasn’t) and picked up a tech arguing the play. Sadly, Monroe had to leave the game after 12 minutes due to an ankle injury, but it was an impactful night for the former Raptor.
Joel Embiid: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 6 turnovers
Both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid had similar performances Monday night in that they were largely bad offensively, but excellent on the defensive end. I’m including Embiid on this list for two reasons. First, he was truly sick entering the game, having watched pre-game film with an IV in his arm. Even with Embiid playing, the Sixers already saw all three of Greg Monroe, Boban Marjanovic, and Amir Johnson log minutes; the team needed Joel out there and he toughed it out. Second, Embiid had two enormous plays in the guts of the game.
First, I don’t know how on earth he fought through this double team and saw Jimmy Butler for the open 3.
Then, it’s a one-point game, season potentially on the line, and Embiid whips up this play. It was like every bit of his training over the years built to his being able to create this bucket.
Who is your Bell Ringer for the series-tying Game 2?
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