TORONTO – Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards from the 76ers’ 113-102 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
– Joel Embiid looks tired. The Sixers center was a step slow on defensive rotations, got muscled, and had a tough time keeping Raptors in front of him. The MVP candidate also had his third straight horrid shooting night. It’s obvious the minutes he’s been logging are starting to take a toll.
– Lack of depth will prevent the Sixers from becoming a serious NBA title contender. Right now, they are relying too heavily on starters Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, and Embiid. The squad is in trouble against solid teams when two or more of them have off nights. The Sixers need to upgrade their bench.
– At times, the Sixers defense is laughable. The Raptors kept forcing switches to get the matchups they wanted. It was mismatch city on two consecutive first-quarter possessions by the Raptors. Six-foot-2 reserve point guard T.J. McConnell found himself guarding Raptors 6-10 center Serge Ibaka on one possession. Then moments later, 6-5 reserve shooting guard Landry Shamet was switched on to guard 6-9 power forward Pascal Siakam.
– The Sixers had solid ball movement, but were out of the control. The latter led to their 21 turnovers. At times, the Sixers threw ill-advised or lazy passes that were easily stolen. On other occasions they got in trouble by trying to make something happen. A prime example came when Embiid passed up a three-pointer in the second quarter. He instead drove the lane, leaped into the air in the paint and crashed into Kyle Lowry for an offensive foul with 11 minutes, 25 seconds left in the half.
Best performance: Leonard gets this for once again torching the Sixers. The two-time All-Star finished with 36 points, nine rebounds, and a game-high five steals. He got anywhere wanted Wednesday night. Leonard is averaging 33.5 points in this season’s two games against the Sixers.
Worst performance: This was an extremely tough one, because it could have easily gone to Embiid. But I decided to give it to Furkan Kormaz. The Sixers reserve guard saw only 6:47 of action. However, he was a minus-6 during that time. He had the unfortunate assignment of guarding Leonard on several occasions, and that added to his struggles. The second-year guard missed both of his shots and was held scoreless. And his play didn’t warrant more minutes.
Best defensive performance: This goes to Leonard for finishing with five steals and one block.
Worst statistic: I gave this to the Sixers’ 11 turnovers in the second quarter.
Best statistic: This goes to Leonard’s making 5 of 6 three-pointers.