Pascual Siakam scored 23 points, lovely achiuwa he was 17, and he toronto raptors forced a homecoming for Game 6 in their Eastern Conference first-round series against Philadelphiabeating the 76ers 103-88 on Monday night.
Hey Canada! Once with a 3-0 series lead, the 76ers head back north.
The Raptors won two straight in the series and pounced on injured Sixers center Joel Embiid and ineffective James Harden to make Thursday night’s game a must.
Embiid had 20 points and 11 rebounds while playing through a thumb injury. Harden scored 15 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers is dragging the weight of ignominious NBA history with him through customs. Rivers, who led Boston to the 2008 championship, is the only coach in NBA history to blow three 3-1 series leads. The Magic lost to Detroit in the first round of the 2003 Eastern Conference; the 2015 Clippers blew Houston in the Western Conference semifinals; and in 2020, the Clippers lost to Denver in the West semifinals.
The next season, Rivers was in Philadelphia, and the Sixers lost three games at home as the top seed and were eliminated in the second round.
Suddenly, the nerves in Philly are as taut as the tires.
The Sixers had a miserable first half. They finished with 10 turnovers and shot 35% from the ground. Philly’s last bucket of the first quarter was one for the blooper roll: Matisse Thybulle’s missed shot bounced off the rim and Achiuwa accidentally finished it off.
Maybe it sparked something for the Raptors. They opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run to take control as the Sixers missed their first nine shots. The Sixers didn’t score until with 6:51 left in the half. Scottie Barnes had eight points in the fourth as the Raptors took a 54-41 lead at halftime.
The 76ers were booed off the court, their play a grim reminder of some recent postseason flops.
“We’ve made some pretty good shots most of the series,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game. “We haven’t shot very well yet. I told the guys today that today would be a good day to go ahead and start making some of those open shots.”
The Raptors listened, hovering around 50% for most of the game. They also controlled the boards and scored 20 points on turnovers.
Harden could have used the shooting tip.
Harden played the same night the All-Star he was traded for, Ben Simmons, was inactive for Brooklyn. Harden was slightly more visible and missed 6 of 8 shots through three quarters, scoring nine points.
Embiid continued to play with a torn ligament in his right thumb. He seemed gassed at times in the third quarter as the Raptors continued to attack the MVP finalist for hard shots, particularly Achiuwa’s driving layup that made it 73-60.
Associated Press report.
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