There are weird basketball games ... and there’s whatever the hell that was.
The Sixers extended their winning streak to five on Monday when they knocked off the Toronto Raptors, 104-101. Joel Embiid’s streak of 30 point games came to end, as the big fella only put up 28 and 11. The Sixers held the Raptors to five points over the last 9:15 of the game to avoid a second half collapse.
Here are some instant observations from the win.
- After missing Friday’s win against the Warriors with back pain, Tobias Harris got into a groove rather quickly. He had a 10 point first quarter and didn’t miss a shot. The Sixers moved the ball around Toronto’s zone fairly well.
count it from the corner! pic.twitter.com/adI4CFQFbz— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 20, 2022
- Despite the good looks they generated, every other Sixer struggled from the field early. A good example of this was De’Anthony Melton’s first half. He shot 0-of-7 from the field, despite getting some wide-open looks. The rest of the team shot 3-of-16 in the opening quarter.
- The Sixers threw some zone themselves at the Raptors, who did not exactly look sharp offensively from the start. The Raptors ended the quarter on a 15-3 run to take a one-point lead.
- Shots started to fall for Philly and it pushed the lead into double-digits. Danuel House Jr. had himself a second quarter, with a how-did-he-make-that and-one, followed by his patented side-step corner three.
- The bench unit was a nice source of life in the first half. The backup center minutes once again went to Montrezl Harrell, who was a plus-12 in his first run. Both Harden and Milton made good use of him in the pick-and-roll.
- Harden had an excellent passing half, per usual. But I thought he looked a lot better driving to the basket than he generally has since returning from injury. The Sixers hit a bit of a lull when the starters came back in, yet a three and a nice drive from Harden kept their lead at double-digits into the break.
- My goodness, what a dunk.
hope the basket is doing ok. pic.twitter.com/vTnpn7fza3— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 20, 2022
- The Sixers struggled offensively and Toronto closed the gap in the third quarter. The Raptors made twice as many three-pointers in the quarter (six) thean they did the entire first half. Between only four Sixer points over the last three minutes and an untimely technical foul on Georges Niang, Toronto tied the game to end the third.
- The key to stopping Pascal Siakam in the past is to have Joel Embiid guard him. Philly showed plenty of different defensive looks at the Raptors tonight, but none of them seemed to stop Siakam. The Cameroonian All-Star had 38 points on 13-of-27 shooting, along with 15 rebounds and six assists for good measure.
- Perhaps, I was fooled in the first half, but we saw much more of the James Harden we are used to driving to the basket. He struggled to create separation and was not convincing enough to draw fouls. All the offensive rhythm from the first half vanished.
- A miserable half for the Sixers, but man, that touch pass by Embiid was an absolute dime.
This embiid tap pass to open corner 3 is noteworthy. pic.twitter.com/M0xmoWljDe— Skyfall (@polarfall) December 20, 2022
- They definitely shouldn’t have been in the position to dig themselves out of a hole. But credit to how the starters finished the fourth quarter defensively. The Raptors scored just three points in the last 4:15 of regulation.
- Overtime, like the rest of this game, was an absolute mess. The Sixers had a dagger three-pointer taken off the board because of an illegal screen. Ultimatelty, they scored enough to complement some stingy defense and snagged a fifth consecutive win.
- The Sixers can make it six straight wins on Wednesday when they face the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m.