Bad Loss – Observations from Raptors 93, Sixers 88

Photo Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Bad loss! Bad loss!

Holy cow that was ugly. The Sixers were up big in the first quarter, playing against a Raptors team missing Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby. Then they proceeded to score 17 points in the second, 20 in the third, and 14 in the fourth en route to a clunker of an L on the front end of the tough back-to-back.

Toronto only shot 37.6% from the field but played a good defensive game, and James Harden and Joel Embiid were both off. The entire “New Philadelphia” team got hammered on the glass as well, which we’ve become accustomed to. They gave up 20 offensive rebounds, which is insane. I don’t even know how that’s possible.

“Just stagnant, no hall movement,” said Doc Rivers of the offensive struggles. “Ran nothing the entire night, no posts, no rolls, no drives, you know, the first quarter I think all but two of our points were from driving to the paint, from that point on we just stood out on the perimeter, didn’t move the ball, didn’t do much, didn’t execute anything even out of timeouts, we just had a very poor executing night offensively, you know it’s funny they had all these offensive rebounds and scored all these points and yet they only had 93 points, we have to be better offensively, tonight we were night.”

We gave up a ton of offensive rebounds,” Georges Niang added. “It’s tough to get a flow on offense when you’re constantly taking the ball up in that or you’re turning the ball over, I give Toronto credit, they do a great job of climbing into your space and not making anything easy, double teaming, trapping and we just didn’t execute down the stretch, we had more than enough opportunities to take the game and we just didn’t execute.

For some context, the Sixers allow 10.4 opponent offensive rebounds per game, so that number was almost doubled on Sunday night. And the Sixers are dead last in the NBA with 8.4 offensive boards per game, so while there’s a lot of nuance that goes into this (misses vs makes, etc), they generally end up with -2 field goal attempts per game based on the offensive rebounding disparity alone. Last night that manifested grotesquely in a 93-73 FGA advantage for Toronto.


Two key plays

More than anything on the stat sheet, the Sixers just didn’t play very well down the stretch. They shot 4-14 in the fourth quarter and 1-6 from three, missing some free throws in the process and doing this coming out of a timeout:

Not sure what happened here. Looks like they were setting up some kind of Spain pick and roll-looking action, but like Mo says, they get lost halfway through the set. Embiid ends up with a 6’6″ wing on him and instead of posting, floats back out to the perimeter, where he turns the ball over. Doc was asked about this play and delivered like seven words of bullshit that made no sense.

Here’s the second play:


“I thought it was an offensive foul.” Rivers said.

There was a lot of social media chatter about Chris Boucher not being set, and/or perhaps the refs could have just held the whistle entirely, but the elbow does come out and so they reviewed it and handed out a flagrant. Regardless, Harden could have pulled up there instead of going body-to-body, so you feel like you’d want that one back.

Nick Nurse touched on this sequence when talked about the Raptors’ fourth quarter defense.

“We were in a situation where we couldn’t give up a three,” he said. “I think we were up three one or two of those times, and up two in the last one. So, we were in our no-three defense, so you’ve gotta play one-on-one. You’ve gotta stay home and do the best you can. Again, I thought Chris stood in there, and we took I think maybe three charges on Harden tonight. That’s huge because he’s got all the options. He’s got the step-back, he’s got the rim and he’s got the floater, and we were trying to take away the first two the best we could and kind of forced him into that, well, went to the float game and we made some plays on it. That’s really the defense. You’ve got to stay at the rim because if you come up, he’s gonna dump it to someone behind you for a dunk. You’ve gotta stay there and wait and do the best you can. I thought some key plays there by Chris taking charges, I think somebody else took one too, I can’t remember, but I think we got three of them.”

“We started off very good on both ends of the ball, rebounding the basketball, I guess just our tempo, our pace slowed down,” Harden explained. “We didn’t really rebound the basketball at a good enough level like we needed to especially after that first quarter and it was just a hard, scrappy game, which we knew that was coming in, we didn’t make shots but we still gave ourselves a chance to win and we had plenty of opportunities.”

Other notes

  • God willing, we will never see the Paul Reed + DeAndre Jordan lineup ever again. One one possession, Harden bounced the ball off Jordan’s head and Toronto ran it out for a dunk. On the very next possession, there was a half court steal and Toronto got another dunk out of it. It was ugly. 
  • Toronto only hit seven threes the entire night. It’s not like they were on fire out there.
  • Tobias Harris 2-9, 0-4 from three. Looked like the Harris we saw right after the Harden trade.
  • Bench players not named Georges Niang hit a grand total of one shot last night, and attempted three.

I’ve got nothing else. Have a great day.

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