In today's newsletter:
- Thoughts on last night's game
- One positive takeaway
- One negative takeaway
- The stat that mattered
- I don't get it...
- They said it
- Injury updates
- Press conference audio
- Link roundup.
Last night's 112-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 bodes really well for the Sixers' ability to wrap up their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors quicker than many (myself included) expected, and not just because of the obvious reason that any underdog winning four out of five games, as Toronto would need to do, is tough to do.
Game 1 was a bit of a stunner because the Sixers beat the Raptors in all the areas where Toronto is strong in – specifically on the offensive glass and in forcing turnovers. Toronto just isn't going to win very many games when their opponent has more shots than they do, especially when the Sixers shoot the heck out of the ball from the perimeter.
But Game 2 was perhaps more demoralizing for the Raptors because they did win those two key areas, just not nearly as decisively (13-7 in offensive rebounds, 9-14 in turnovers) as they need to in order to overcome a massive (62.3% to 48.9%) gap in effective field goal percentage. The Raptors just don't have the offensive firepower to score enough points without a truly massive advantage in the possession battle. And, especially right now, don't have the defensive depth to stop Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid consistently.
That became evident once Fred VanVleet started to cool down after his hot first quarter (15 points on 5-9 shooting, playing all 12 first-quarter minutes). FVV was carrying Toronto's half-court offense, but as the game went on the realities of his immense workload and his achy knee started to chip away at his effectiveness. Toronto went cold over the middle periods, scoring just 38 points on 44 field goal attempts in the second and third quarters, while shooting just 38.6% from the field, 2-15 from 3-point range and 2-3 from the free-throw line, good for an 84.4 offensive rating.