End on a High

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Toronto Raptors Take Out Sixers in Chris Finch’s Farewell Game

The Toronto Raptors are a completely different team.

After a 2-8 start, the Raptors have fought their way to above .500% with a huge 110-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers – the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

But the big victory was overshadowed by a monumental hiring. On Sunday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves revealed that they have relieved Ryan Saunders of his duties and have hired Raptors assistant Chris Finch as his replacement, inking Finch to a multi-year deal. An unusual mid-season poaching, Finch has developed a reputation around the game as an offensive savant and will now take over as the new head coach of the struggling Wolves.

“Hiring a coach off another staff during the season is uncommon, but Toronto wouldn’t stand in the way of Finch’s chance to become a head coach now,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. “Finch had success as a G-League head coach, and has interviewed for several head coaching jobs in recent years.”

As far as the game itself, small ball has become the theme.

With no Lowry in the mix and of course no Marc Gasol to patrol the paint against MVP candidate Joel Embiid, the Raptors held the Sixers to 39-percent shooting from the field. Ben Simmons combined for 53 points and 26 rebounds but it proved to be not enough as the gritty Raptors used a strong second half to earn a hard-fought victory.

“The way we play, the way we scramble around, we’re doubling on the post, on the block, it doesn’t really matter what size the guy is that’s guarding Embiid, if you can push him out far enough, we’ll double and rotate out of that,” said Fred VanVleet, who finished the night with 23 points. “…But OG and Pascal gave Joel a great fight, different looks and with Baynes and Chris coming off the bench to give him another look … as much as we might be out-sized, they still gotta keep up with our speed and flow offensively.”

Siakam put together yet another strong all-around performance, pouring in 23 points of his own along with seven board and eight dimes. Chris Boucher added 17 points of his own off the bench.

The Sixers will have a shot to get back at the Raptors son Tuesday when they square off yet again in Tampa.

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