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Offense sputters as Sixers fail to sweep Raptors

The Sixers couldn’t get anything going offensively as the Raptors force Game 5 in Philly Monday night.

Philadelphia 76ers v Toronto Raptors - Game Four Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

The Sixers haven’t swept a seven-game series since 1985.

That streak will remain as their offense sputtered in a 110-102 loss to the Raptors at ScotiaBank Arena Saturday afternoon. Toronto staves off elimination, forcing a Game 5 Monday night in Philadelphia.

Here are a few thoughts from the loss.

First quarter

  • Man, Tobias Harris’ defense has been elite. He’s done so well against Pascal Siakam, but he’s also handled every switch against OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. exceedingly well. He also had two strong drives to the basket. There’s a physicality on both ends from Harris that the Raptors haven’t matched.
  • Joel Embiid is fighting it out there a bit. The thumb is clearly bothering him and he isn’t getting much help from the officials. When James Harden left the floor, everything was kept to the outside.
  • A little offense from Shake Milton here on a corner three and a little fadeaway in the paint. Milton creating offense would be a huge boost.
  • I have concerns about Harden as a scorer going forward, but there is a steady, calming influence he provides on the offensive end. It feels like every time the Raptors are about to go on a run, Harden hits a step-back three or gets to the line.
  • Not the greatest first quarter, but if this was the Raptors’ best punch to keep their season alive, the Sixers are in great shape. We’re tied at 24-24 while Embiid is 0 fo 5 from the field and Sixers are shooting 36.4 percent from the field.

Second quarter

  • Scottie Barnes, returning after missing all of Games 2, 3 and 4 after suffering a right ankle sprain in Game 1, was down again. The newly-minted Rookie of the Year was grabbing his left ankle. He returned to the game.
  • Paul Reed three! Folks, DeAndre Jordan cannot do that. Nice setup from Harden. And then a nice spin and finish from Reed as Toronto shows some token pressure.
  • It’s been a slog offensively. Embiid hit a fadeaway from the left block which was encouraging, but the Sixers not getting much going outside of a couple nice Harden drives. They’re shooting just 36.1 percent and trail 50-38 late in the second. Understandably, the Raptors have way more life.
  • Yeah, he’s still Joel Embiid. Great position by Embiid, beautiful entry pass by Harden, and the big man completes the and-one and it’s a 52-47 game with just over a minute left in the half. The Sixers have tightened up the defense in a big way.
  • Similar to Game 3, the Sixers didn’t get off to a great start, but are still very much in this game. They trail 54-49 heading into the locker room, but they’re shooting just 40.5 as a team. The Raptors haven’t shot much better (42.2 percent), but are leading because of a slight edge in rebounding and the free throw line. Embiid started to come alive towards the end of the half. Harden pacing the Sixers with 12 points and five assists.

Third quarter

  • Danny Green getting wide-open looks from the corner on a pretty consistent basis all day. He’s just 2 of 6 from three so far. Sixers making inroads mostly because of their defense. They’re within one, 61-60, midway through the third.
  • Tobias Harris, folks.
  • Yeah, I think Joel Embiid is OK. He’s in obvious discomfort, but he just put a beautiful move on Thaddeus Young and finished with a fadeaway at the elbow. Then another fadeaway a few minutes later. You have to give Embiid a ton of credit. He’s figuring out how to play with that banged-up thumb and is doing everything he can to help the Sixers close this out. He’s up to 16 points on 7 of 14 from the field. Hell of an effort.
  • Two big threes from Georges Niang and this is very much a ballgame heading into the fourth. The Sixers win the third period 28-26 and trail 80-77 heading into the final frame. Just highlighting again how awesome Harris has been. He came up with a big help block on Precious Achuiwa late in the quarter. He’s got 13 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. Tremendous series from Harris. Fred VanVleet is out for the night with a hip injury. That’s a huge loss for the Raptors who do lack ball-handling.

Fourth quarter

  • Lots of whistles for both sides and it’s a clunky start to the fourth. The Sixers playing into the Raptors’ hands by not taking care of the basketball and giving them transition opportunities. Toronto has 19 points off turnovers while the Sixers have three. The Raptors also have 13 offensive rebounds to the Sixers’ five. It’s not complicated — take care of the ball, force them to play in the half court, rebound, and you should win. Toronto extends its lead to 88-81.
  • Not a sight you want to see: Harris limped off the floor after committing a foul on Pascal Siakam. It was also Harris’ fifth foul. Sixers leaking oil a bit here, down 93-85 with 6:30 remaining. Siakam up to 30 points.
  • An ugly ending to this game. The officiating hasn’t been great (Raptors leading in the free throw department, 30-18), but the Sixers doing a very poor job of playing through it. Brutal offensive game for the Sixers. It’s 102-89 Raptors with under three minutes left.
  • Likely won’t be too many nights where Embiid, Harden and Maxey are all going to shoot so poorly. That trio went 16 of 45. That said, Harden’s struggles as a scorer (5 of 17, 2 of 8 from three) are concerning. The status of Embiid’s right thumb will also be a big storyline going forward. Siakam (34 points) provided most of the Raptors’ offense after being stymied through the first three games.

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