Already back to the wall after having suffered two defeats in Philly, the Raptors have long held on to relaunch themselves in this first-round series against the Sixers. But, after an extension at loggerheads, it was Joel Embiid who got the better of Toronto, with a 3-pointer for the win, for a potential sweep!
Despite 20 points from Precious Achiuwa (but two very costly missed shots at the end of regulation time), 24 points for Gary Trent Jr. who finally gets his head out of the water after several fevers which have weakened him or even 26 points for OG Anunoby, his team’s leading scorer, the Raptors failed to defeat Philly.
In front for almost the entire match, Toronto cracked in the “money time” and in overtime. Its two leaders, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, finished at only 12 points, the first at 3/13 on shots including 2/10 from 3-points and the second at 6/16 on shots. Too few to rival the Sixers’ All-Stars, with Joel Embiid at 33 points and 13 rebounds and James Harden at 19 points and 10 assists.
“We fought well”said Fred VanVleet in the Toronto Sun. “We fought really hard. We raised the level of competitiveness, it took us two games to get there. I’m proud of the guys and the way we fought and raised our intensity. Our attention to detail was a bit better. We created some play offensively. But generating shots has never been one of our problems in this series. It was our defense that was a problem and I think it was better [hier] evening. As for the end of the match and our execution in the money time, it was probably the worst thing that could have happened to us. »
The biggest difference was actually defensively last night, with a convincing first quarter holding the Sixers to just 19 points.
“We are going to need to find the defense of the Toronto Raptors who are flying everywhere tonight”, Nick Nurse had announced before the match. At halftime, with Joel Embiid on 5 points and Tyrese Maxey on 10, Toronto could be happy to have managed to juggle two of the forces in the presence of Philly.
“The hardest defeat”
But, like the Sixers’ last action perfectly executed for Joel Embiid’s decisive 3-pointer, against the disturbed one and the too late attempt of OG Anunoby, the Raptors showed their inexperience and their youth. If Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby have already experienced title intoxication and high-tension matches, they failed to turn the tide against the Sixers last night.
And, from a possible reduction in the score on the series, the Raptors find themselves at the bottom of a gaping hole, at 0-3…
” It’s very difficult. I have to really think about it to say it but it’s probably the hardest defeat I’ve had since I’ve been here.”blew a disappointed Nick Nurse. “Obviously, if we had managed to win this match, we would have a series but instead, we are in a really, really deep hole! It’s a very hard defeat to swallow. »
The technician of the Canadian franchise had announced that it would be necessary to achieve a perfect match to hope to compete. And his players ran for 48 minutes, or even a little more. But, in the end, the harsh reality of high-level sport violently brought them back to earth…
“We play for our pride now”concludes Fred VanVleet. “Our honor is on the table. There is no place to look around and feel sorry for ourselves. We did a lot of good things [sur ce Game 3]we produced a lot of minutes of good basketball but we will have to do it again [au Game 4]. »