Disaster averted. The Sixers closed out their first-round series by defeating the Toronto Raptors, 132-97, in Toronto Thursday night. Joel Embiid had 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting, along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. James Harden had his best playoff game as a Sixer, going for 25 points along with six rebounds and 15 assists. Tyrese Maxey also had a bounce-back performance, putting up 25 points on 61.9 percent true shooting. After a close first half, the Sixers cruised through the second half to close out the first round. They’ll meet old friend Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat next in the second round.
Here are some observations from Game 6.
- The key to the Sixers getting out to an early lead was a hot start from James Harden. The All-Star acquisition came alive early with a 10-point first quarter. Harden got downhill early, creating layups for both himself and others. This was a start Harden desperately needed.
- The Sixers were a lot more successful defensively when they sat in a zone in the first half, as compared to their man-to-man defense. Tyrese Maxey struggled defensively with the Raptors’ length especially. Philly went back to the zone towards the end of the second and saw good results.
- Yes, Matisse Thybulle is ineligible to play in Canada, but Furkan Korkmaz saw first-half minutes why??????
- The Raptors played to their strengths to keep the game close in the first half, winning the turnover margin 5-2 and the offensive rebounding margin 10-1. They took 11 more shots in the first half than the Sixers. Their ability to create extra possessions has caused problems for the Sixers since Game 3.
- Doc Rivers noted that Toronto kept the Sixers out of the paint in Game 5, so Philly made an emphasis of attacking the paint early in Game 6. Between Harden drives and Embiid post-ups, the Sixers outscored Toronto in the paint in the first half.
Establishing deep positioning like this is exactly what Embiid needs to keep doing as much as possible. Good quick seal in transition, and Harden sends the pass right where Embiid needs it. pic.twitter.com/MMfh1gWSh6— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) April 28, 2022
- An excellent first half for Danny Green, shooting 4-of-5 from the field. Green has stepped up big time in this series in the absence of Thybulle. After a back-and-forth half, Philly took a one-point lead into the locker room.
- It was an excellent shooting night from beyond the arc for Tyrese Maxey. After going 2-of-5 in the first half, the second-year standout’s three made threes and 11 points in the third quarter were crucial to the Sixers getting out to a double-digit lead.
TYRESE MAXEY IS IN THE ZONE pic.twitter.com/ehaICFOGyQ— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 29, 2022
- The Sixers mixed up their center rotation slightly, subbing in Paul Reed when Embiid would normally play the entire first and third quarters. This adjustment worked out well for Philly, as Toronto didn’t go on massive runs with Embiid on the bench. Reed’s skillset was much needed for rebounding reinforcements in this series.
- After the last two games, it was so refreshing from a Philly perspective to see them push the lead to 20 in the third quarter. They shot 11-of-19 in the third quarter. For the first time since Game 2, they easily looked like the superior team in the series.
- Harden found his step-back stroke in the second half. If his three-point shot starts falling at a high clip, that will be a game-changer for the Sixers moving forward.