Raptors Comeback Halted in Heartbreaking Game 2 Defeat to Sixers
Since Vladdy’s call up, Toronto teams are 4-0 with the superstar baseball prospect in attendance.
Vladdy was not at the Scotiabank Arena on Monday night.
Coincidence? I think not.
Of course, depending on who you ask, some lunatic (me) can blame tonight’s Toronto Raptors loss on the Vladdy no-show, but there are a multitude of reasons that have led to the Philadelphia 76ers tying this best of seven series at 1-1.
Ultimately, two things are what will be put under a microscope: Head Coach Nick Nurse’s questionable rotations and undying loyalty to his bench, and more importantly, the Raptors inability to hit open and clean shots. As the final buzzer went, the Raptors fell by a score of 94-89, entering their locker room with a sour taste in their mouth and the feeling of not capitalizing after having the game handed to them on a silver platter in the second half by their opponents.
“That’s normally the case from the team that goes down 0-1 or loses the last game,” Nurse said pre-game. “I think that’s always the thing you remember.”
Fact is, the Philadelphia 76ers handed the Raptors the blow they expected coming right out of the gate. The Sixers made defensive adjustments, Jimmy Butler was more aggressive, the team was hungry as they were down 1-0 in the series, and Brett Brown devised a game plan to withstand the Raptors in light of Joel Embiid feeling under the weather due to a stomach flu.
Yet, despite Philadelphia’s gritty play on both ends of the court and Nurse insisting on keeping Serge Ibaka on Embiid for far too long, the Raptors were able to claw back within one point in the winding minutes of the third quarter after being down by nearly 20 at one point. The Raptors starters finished the night boasting a +26 net rating compared to the -51 rating accumulated by the second unit and there was Nurse showing a somewhat loose leash on his second unit heading into the fourth quarter.
Down the stretch, the Raptors were able to claw back as Kawhi Leonard erupted once again for 35 points despite tough defense from Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry was able to make a couple of clutch three pointers. Nevertheless, the Raptors’ inability to make clean shots ended up being the key contributor to tonight’s loss.
With the series now nodded up at ones, the Raptors and Sixers will have an extra day off as the series shifts to The City of Brotherly Love. It will now be up to Nurse to make the adjustments as the Raptors will look to reclaim home court advantage.
The playoffs are all about matchups and its up to the Raptors to realize which ones worked and which didn’t.