For the first time in this series, the Sixers dominated the Raptors for most of the game and continued dominating in the fourth quarter. With the win, the Sixers became just the fifth team in NBA history to win three straight home playoff games by at least 20.
The reasons for this overwhelming victory despite 33 points from Kawhi Leonard were Joel Embiid’s own 33 points (in just 28 minutes), and Playoff Lowry.
Playoff Kyle Lowry might be the most ineffective basketball player I have ever seen. Think about this: Ben Simmons gets loads of criticism for not being able to shoot, not scoring/dominating when he needs to, and not being able to hit free throws… but Kyle Lowry so far (and every Toronto playoff run really) has been that exact same player except he scores even less, attempts a ton of shots he never hits, and is like a foot shorter than Simmons.
Lowry’s best defensive plays probably come when he flails his arms and snaps his back like Shaq to draw a foul.
Lowry finished 2-10 on the night, missed two of his five free throws, went 0-4 from three, and finished with the worst plus/minus stat of any Toronto Raptor who saw minutes with a whopping -28. Towards the end of the game, I was literally laughing sometimes when I saw him with the ball because I knew that no points were going on the board as long as the ball was in his hands. Playoff Lowry is flat-out garbage. Simply put.
Lowry aside, the Sixers won this game because they played confidently and because Embiid outplayed Kawhi despite aching knees, an ailing back, and playing nine less minutes than Kawhi in this contest.
The 76ers’ starting five all finished with double-digit point totals, and Embiid hit his first three straight three point attempts (which actually set up his pump fakes for once) and opened up the entire offense with his dominating style of play.
By the way, Embiid became the first player to go 30/10 while playing less than 30 minutes since Kevin McHale did it in 1990.
Once again, Butler did more than enough as well as he finished with 22 points and nine assists to along with nine boards, and Butler has been averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and a 48.6 shooting percentage from the field over the past two games.
Simmons had a pretty average night offensively, but played well on the other side of the floor and recorded seven rebounds while limiting Kawhi’s efficiency enough consistently so the 76ers could find a lead and build on it possession after possession. Check out this slow-motion replay of a nice no-look assist he had to Butler:
JJ Redick and Tobias Harris came alive at times, often by pulling up to save possessions with clutch jumpers as they combined to hit five threes and each finished above 20 in the +/- category.