Tonight, the Raptors came into Game 2 with a clear objective: get physical with the Sixers and junk up the game. At first, it was working, as Toronto got out to an 11-2 start. But then Joel Embiid happened. I’ll get to him in particular shortly, but the should-be MVP and the home team soon took over the game vs. the visiting Raptors and — save for a foot-off-the-gas 20-2 run they surrendered during the fourth quarter — controlled the game handily after the middle of the first quarter. They’ll head to Toronto up 2-0 and in control of the series.
Let’s get to our candidates for tonight’s Bell Ringer.
Joel Embiid: 31 points, 11 rebounds, 12/14 FTs
Embiid heard Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse’s whining in the media about the refereeing in Game 1 and he, no doubt, felt the increased physicality from his opponents from the game’s onset. How did he respond? With 19 first-quarter points, getting to the free throw line 10 times. He set the tone for the entire game, and he was fired up. He was excellent in this game on both ends. He had a bit of an injury scare when his right elbow seemed to get caught in the third quarter, bumping into Matisse Thybulle — he was flexing it throughout the rest of the game — but played through it and played quite well in his remaining minutes. He captained the ship tonight from an emotional standpoint in a big way, and he weathered the storm of the Raptors’ hot shooting early on to keep the Sixers under control. Star-level stuff from our MVP.
Tyrese Maxey: 23 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, +22
Tyrese Maxey is a star. After a 38-point explosion in Game 1, he did not force anything, he let the game come to him tonight. He did not score in the first quarter and then picked his spots, got to the rim, hit his floaters, went 3 of 6 from three. The kid is pure joy on the basketball court. I cannot believe he’s a Sixer. The chemistry that he’s been growing with James Harden in the pick-and-roll is really exciting to watch as well. When Toronto was making that ominous 20-2 run in the final frame and cut the Sixers’ lead to 11, it was Maxey who settled things down and drilled a three. He also hit the deck at one point and stayed on the ground for a bit (he said after the game that he hit his funny bone, he’s fine) and the crowed immediately erupted in Maxey chants.
Tobias Harris: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, game-high +23
I can’t say enough about how good Tobias has been so far in this series, and over the past few weeks. He’s making quick decisions, catching and shooting from three, punishing little guys in the post, and playing really solid defense. He was so good tonight, and really seems to have found his groove within the Harden-Embiid-Maxey core, which is not something I expected to see happen this year (or ever, frankly). And to expand on his defense: during the regular season, to my eye, Pascal Siakam killed him. It seemed like whenever Siakam was guarded by Harris, Siakam’s eyes got big and he calmly deposited two points. But through two games in this series, Tobias has done an excellent job guarding the All-Star. I’ve been so impressed. Keep it up, Tobi.
Danny Green: 11 points, 3 assists, 2 blocks, a poster dunk
Danny Green, ladies and gentlemen! After going 0 of 5 from three in Game 1, Green responded in a big way, nailing three threes tonight and playing very solid defense. The Sixers needed solid minutes out of Danny tonight especially, as Matisse Thybulle was terrible. But per usual, Danny was in all the right places, moved the ball when needed, hoisted it when he was open. And in the games waining moments on a fastbreak, he rose up and cocked back a poster dunk like he was back at UNC. His teammates went crazy. It was a great way to cap off a job well done at home.
Big Ol' Danny Green dunk and everyone is fired up pic.twitter.com/dKSAy4O1z6— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) April 19, 2022
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Who is the Bell Ringer in the Game 2 win over Toronto?
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