Sixers look to defeat Raptors in Eastern Semifinals

Originally Posted on The Triangle via UWIRE

Jimmy Butler’s return from illness was the catalyst for the Philadelphia 76ers bringing their series to a deadlock after two games against the Toronto Raptors. (Photograph courtesy of Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images/TNS)

The Philadelphia 76ers are up 2-1 in the series against the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the 2019 NBA Playoffs. After only losing one game to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round before going on a four-game win streak to close out the series, the Sixers look to take down Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Raptors started the series with the home court advantage and took the first game 108-95. None of the Sixers players scored above 20 points. JJ Redick led the Sixers in scoring with 17 points, while Leonard had 45 points for the Raptors. Tobias Harris managed to throw up a double-double for the Sixers with 14 points and 15 rebounds, but as a team, they only shot 39.3 percent from the field against 51.9 percent shooting from the Raptors. The Sixers also turned the ball over 16 times, eight of which were in the second half.

The Sixers took an early lead in the first quarter of Game 1 but allowed the Raptors to gain momentum. Once the Raptors had the lead and control of the offense, the Sixers couldn’t tie it up.

However, things turned around for the Sixers in Toronto in Game 2 as they changed their defense slightly and put Simmons guarding Leonard for most of the game.

The Sixers lead the first half 51-38. The Raptors tried to make a comeback in the second half, but the Sixers were able to hold off a charge from Leonard.

The leading scorer for the Sixers was Jimmy Butler who put up 30 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Simmons had only six points playing 44 minutes of the game. Harris posted nine points and 11 rebounds. Joel Embiid, who was battling  stomach flu, scored 12 points and made 8-8 from the free throw line for crucial points to keep the Sixers ahead.

”There’s no way I was missing this game,” Embiid said. ”This game was really important to us. It doesn’t matter what I had, I was going to play.”

Leonard led the Raptors again with 35 points and Pascal Siakam followed him with 21 points.

The Sixers went 24-26 overall from free throw line for 92.3 percent. The biggest lead they had was 19 points but still had 19 turnovers throughout the game, which is an area that they will need to improve in order to win this series.

This was definitely Butler’s night, though. He had only 10 points on 4-12 from the field in the first game.

”[Butler] wasn’t going to be quiet this whole series,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said.

Game 3 was May 2. The Raptors trailed by only three points after the first quarter, but the Sixers continued to make adjustments to try to stop Leonard from making a run. The Sixers increased their lead to 11 by halftime, giving them a solid place to pick it up in the second half.

Embiid was on fire for this game, as he was able to match Leonard with 33 points by the end. Embiid also grabbed 10 rebounds to give him his first double-double of the playoffs. Butler also put up 22 points for the Sixers while Siakam had 20 points for the Raptors.

The Sixers won the game with a final score of 116-95.

Game 4 is scheduled for May 5 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. More information, as well as recaps, can be found online at www.nba.com. If you want to follow the action in the Western Conference, check out this article.

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