Coming into the 2022 NBA playoffs, the sentiment was that the series between the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors would be a close one. Through two games, it has been anything but.
Joel Embiid had 29 points and 11 rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey added 21 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, leading the Sixers to 112-97 win over the Raptors to take a 2-0 series lead.
After a close first quarter that saw Toronto hold a one-point advantage, Philly dominated the rest of the way. The Sixers outscored the Raptors 35-19 to take a 15-point lead at half-time and never looked back.
This was the second-straight blowout win for the Sixers, who have looked like the much sharper team on both ends of the floor. Philly shot 52.2 percent from the field, while its defense was stellar once again. Toronto could not get consistent penetration, and the Sixers held the Raptors to just 34.4 shooting from outside.
- It is LOUD at the Center. The fans went crazy when North Philly’s Dawn Staley was introduced as tonight’s bell ringer. The South Carolina women’s basketball coach just led the Gamecocks to their second national title in the last six seasons.
- After his dynamite performance in Game 1, Tyrese Maxey gets an appreciative roar from the crowd when he’s introduced as part of the starting lineup.
- Scottie Barnes is out with an ankle injury, but Gary Trent Jr. and Thad Young are playing.
- The Raptors came out hot to begin the game. They connected on two three-point attempts and jumped out to an early 8-0 lead.
- There is a ton of intensity to start. Embiid and Anunoby got into it, and the refs gave them each a technical foul.
- Philly got buckets from Embiid and Harden to get on the board. Then, Joel was absolutely mauled by Pascal Siakam during this play:
Fans not happy Joel Embiid got bodied by the Raptors and no flagrant foul pic.twitter.com/vtMTqladMs— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 18, 2022
- That play seemed to wake the Sixers up. After being down 11-2, Philly went on an 11-2 run to tie up. Harden found Embiid in transition for an and-one, and the fans went crazy.
- Toronto is in early foul trouble. Siakam and Anunoby each had two fouls less than six minutes in, and the Raptors have five team fouls. Meaning Philly will shoot free throws for the rest of the quarter on any foul.
- The Sixers have been great in transition in the first quarter. They’re up to eight fastbreak points less than seven minutes into the opening frame.
- Georges Niang enters the game, and the Raptors are targeting him on the defensive end. Siakam is running ISOs against Niang, and he scored on back-to-back possessions. The next time down the floor, Embiid went back to guarding Siakam.
- Embiid is killing Toronto inside. The Raptors’ lack of size is apparent with Joel sealing whoever is guarding him right under the hoop. The MVP candidate had 19 points in the quarter, with 11 of those coming at the free-throw line.
- After a quiet Game 1, Fred VanVleet is back on track. The All-Star went four-of-six from deep and had 15 points in the opening quarter, helping the Raptors take a 33-32 lead going into the second.
- The non-Embiid minutes begin with Paul Reed on the court alongside Harden, Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Shake Milton.
- The Sixers are getting production from Green. The veteran has hit his first three shots from deep.
- Maxey gets his first bucket of the game four minutes into the second quarter. It came in transition following a tremendous defensive effort from Reed, who forced Siakam into a tough shot.
- Philly is carrying the play with Embiid on the bench. The Sixers have outscored the Raptors 18-9 over the first four minutes of the second and have been getting easy hoops in transition.
- The Raptors are going after Reed in pick-and-rolls, but he has held his own. A questionable foul call after he stopped VanVleet from penetrating leads to Embiid coming back in for the final six minutes of the half. Please don’t ever go back to DeAndre Jordan, Doc. No one other than DJ’s family and agent wants to see it.
Paul Reed checks out. He was a +12.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) April 19, 2022
- Harden has looked much more active on the defensive end. He had a nice block in the first quarter on Khem Birch. Then, in the second quarter, he made this excellent play that led to a lay-in.
- Maxey continued to grow up right in front of our eyes. He’s lightning-quick and can create so much space with just one move. His step-back three late in the second quarter showcases just how much he has improved over the last year.
- The Sixers have owned the Raptors so far in this series. They lead 67-52 at the break. Philly’s offense has looked so much crisper over the past two games. The transition buckets are a big reason why.
- The Sixers begin the third quarter with a gorgeous alley-oop from Harden to Embiid to go up by 17.
- Philly’s defense is suffocating Toronto anytime the Raptors attempt to get into the paint. Embiid made Precious Achiuwa look like a varsity player and completely locked him down on a drive to the rim.
- Harris continues his strong play as well. When he’s aggressive on both ends of the floor, the Sixers are that much better for it. So far in this series, Harris has done precisely what the team needs from him. Tobi just scored a bucket to put Philly up 76-56 with 6:39 left in the third.
- The Raptors have just six points through 7:50 in the third. The Sixers are owning the Raptors on the defensive end. Toronto isn’t getting any easy buckets and is struggling from the three-point line. The Raptors are six-of-21 from deep after making four out of their first six. Sixers up by 26, and the rout is on.
- After constantly complaining to the refs all night, I am happy to report that Nick Nurse has finally taken his seat on the bench.
- Embiid is ridiculous. He just made ANOTHER three-pointer with the shot clock winding down.
- Embiid appeared to favor his right elbow but stayed in the game. He was taken out for Reed with just under three minutes to go in the third.
- Maxey stayed down for a while after being called for an offensive foul. Then, the crowd began chanting MAXEY! MAXEY! and the second-year guard got up off the floor to a loud ovation.
- Now Maxey is just showing off. He calmly hits a stepback three after schooling the Raptors on the fast break. He’s up to 18 points, and Philly is up 95-71 going into the fourth.
- Harris is bullying the smaller Malachi Flynn and getting easy hoops over the guard. The Sixers are up by 24 with 10 minutes to go.
- Philly clearly has Toronto frustrated. Siakam picked up a technical after being called for a personal foul.
- The Raptors are on a 15-0 run to cut the lead to 11 with seven minutes to go, and the tension is growing at Wells Fargo Center.
- Some of that tension just dissipated when Maxey made yet another three-pointer to put the Sixers back up by 14.
- DANNY GREEN just threw it down and the crowd is going nuts! The dunk puts Philly up by 19 and essentially ends Game 2. The Sixers will go to Toronto with a 2-0 series lead.
Big Ol' Danny Green dunk and everyone is fired up pic.twitter.com/dKSAy4O1z6— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) April 19, 2022
Up next: Game 3 in Toronto on Wednesday.