The Philadelphia 76ers had a rough Tuesday night against (arguably) the best team in the East, in the Toronto Raptors.
Putting it in a simple way, the Philadelphia 76ers just didn’t play well whatsoever. Apart from a small fourth quarter comeback, the team couldn’t execute on either side of the ball.
Kawhi Leonard was absolutely massive for the Raptors, and the MVP hype around him definitely showed tonight. Leonard completely locked Ben Simmons up, which stalled the offense for the majority of the night.
The Toronto Raptors are one of the deepest teams in the entire league, and it showed against the Sixers bench. When time came for substitutes, Toronto took over the game as Philadelphia’s reserves simply aren’t up to par.
Let’s take a dive into some player grades:
Joel Embiid is the only Sixer who actually had a “decent” game tonight. It took him awhile to get into an offensive flow, but he erupted and helped the Sixers make a run in the fourth quarter. He was efficient shooting the ball, and even managed to hit 75 percent of his threes tonight. Embiid did have some defensive issues that don’t show up in the box score, however, mainly guarding Jonas Valanciunas. One promising takeaway in general is that Joel Embiid has improved on limiting his turnovers.
Robert Covington continues to have a great season, even with the ugly loss tonight. He stuffed the stat sheet on the defensive end with four steals and two blocks. He shot efficiently from three, managing to hit 4/10 attempts. Unfortunately, the Raptors were on fire offensively and there wasn’t much Robert Covington could do to slow down Kyle Lowry/Kawhi Leonard.
No, that isn’t a miss print you see in the turnover column. Simmons had a very rough game, matching up with the likes of Kawhi Leonard. Wether it was careless passes, or the Raptors clogging the lane; Ben Simmons could not get off a lot of passes tonight. It seemed like Simmons had a case of “butter fingers” and could not just hold onto the ball at times. Ben Simmons is a player that should be closely watched over the next few games, as he has been somewhat inconsistent early on.
For the most part, J.J. Redick had a rough game. Even though he was getting decent looks early on, Redick’s shots simply weren’t falling. Shooters have their fair share of off games, so there is no reason to look past that.
That did change, however, when the Sixers went on their mini-run in the fourth quarter. Redick sparked some energy, by hitting back-to-back threes which trimmed down the lead immensely for Toronto. The team does seem to struggle when J.J. Redick isn’t hitting shots, however. He’s not only a major key for floor spacing, but for the second unit as well. The team really missed his high scoring tonight.
Muscala provided the Sixers quality minutes for the second game in a row. He was one of the few efficient players on offense, scoring 12 points on only five shots. He has helped dampen the blow, that is known as the Dario Saric cold streak. Muscala’s biggest weakness is the fact that he isn’t a great defender. There was countless times in which his defensive assignment would score with ease. Toronto shot 51 percent on overall field goals, and unfortunately Moose didn’t help in terms of that.
Obviously, the Sixers have many issues that they need to solve: Teams are sagging off Ben Simmons more than ever, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons can’t play efficiently together, and there is still an issue with bench depth.
A loss to a great team in Toronto this early shouldn’t cause panic. What matters right now, is how the team will respond to tonight’s loss. The Philadelphia 76ers will look to bounce back on Thursday night, to take on the LA Clippers at home.