10 things from Raptors-76ers
theScore

Welcome to the 10 things recap by theScore features writer William Lou, which serves to highlight emerging trends from a Raptors perspective.

  1. Clutch: The Raptors calmly dusted the Sixers despite yet another miserable night from deep. Toronto put the clamps to Philadelphia on defense, as they forced 21 turnovers and used every opportunity to run in transition for easy baskets. The Sixers stayed close due to the Raptors' poor shooting, but they ran out of gas in the fourth.

  2. Superstar: Kawhi Leonard was nothing short of sensational on both ends of the floor. Not only did he stuff the stat sheet with 36 points, nine rebounds, and five steals, but this was also the most explosive that he's looked since injuring his quad. Leonard threw down a pair of daring dunks in traffic, including a highlight jam in the fourth where he took off from beyond the dotted circle.

  3. Issue: Kyle Lowry's continued inability to score is a growing concern. It's unclear if his sore back is hampering his mobility, but his outside shot is off and he's already severely limited within the arc. Lowry scored just seven points on 27 percent shooting and has averaged less than 10 points per game in Toronto's five losses to date.

  4. Toughness: Lowry was still able to contribute in other areas, even though he wasn't scoring. He provided timely help defense in the paint, took two massive charges on Joel Embiid, and he continues to challenge his bigs with leading passes that result in easy baskets around the rim. Lowry can thrive as a third option so long as there's someone else who can be the second option behind Leonard.

  5. Emergence: That second scorer tonight was Jonas Valanciunas, who carried the Raptors with 18 points in the fourth after battling early foul trouble. Valanciunas scored at will in the post, which had the added benefit of settling their transition defense. Embiid was so frustrated with his inability to contain Valanciunas that he even picked up a tech.

  6. Confidence: Raptors coach Nick Nurse chose to ride with Valanciunas for the entire fourth quarter, which has to do wonders for his confidence. Valanciunas had been stuck in a run of poor performances against difficult matchups, but he thrived against a traditional post player in Embiid and finished with 26 points in just 18 minutes.

  7. Weakness: The Raptors consistently struggle to cover dribble handoffs. The Sixers attacked them relentlessly by dumping the ball to Embiid, while the likes of JJ Redick and Landry Shamet came flying around his screens for open jumpers. The Raptors tried to stay attached and chase over the top, but Embiid's screens consistently created space to shoot.

  8. Strength: However, the Raptors were otherwise excellent in defending both Embiid and Ben Simmons. Toronto's bigs held their ground against Embiid in the post, and the wings did a great job of sending help without conceding the 3-point line.

  9. Menace: Meanwhile, Leonard continued to torture Simmons, who has absolutely no idea what to do against a quicker and stronger player who he can't bully. Simmons conceded seven turnovers, which is actually a slight improvement from their first meeting where Simmons coughed it up 11 times.

  10. Forgiven: Chris Bosh received a standing ovation in his latest return to Toronto. Bosh sat courtside in Drake's seats and said it felt like things "came full circle" with Raptors fans cheering him again. It was also fitting that he came to town during a game that was broadcasted on ESPN, for obvious reasons.

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10 things from Raptors-76ers
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