If the win over Milwaukee earlier in the week was their best win, Thursday night was easily the Raptors best loss of the season to date, if there can actually be such a thing.
Despite not winning a quarter, they were in this thing against the Philadelphia 76ers right up until the final stages of the final quarter. The Raptors still have no answer for Joel Embiid – few do — but they were much more competitive this time around than they were on Saturday in Nick Nurse’s first win over his ex-team.
The margin for error remains slim with Toronto and despite an impressive 30 assists on 38 made field goals, the Raptors turned the ball over 19 times leading to 23 points they couldn’t afford to give up.
Without further ado, the game grades for your Raptors in their 114-99 loss to the 76ers:
A — Scottie Barnes
The most consistent Raptor to this point in the season remains consistent with his fifth 20-plus point game of the year. He’s shooting the ball better than he did at any point last season and is leading this team with his infectious enthusiasm. In addition to his 24 points, he had eight rebounds and eight assists. Even the turnovers were down to just one this game. We are particularly enjoying Barnes physically taking on the likes of Embiid and, the previous night, Giannis Antetokounmpo. That sets a tone team-wide.
A- — O.G. Anunoby
Tasked with the impossible task of keeping Tyrese Maxey from going off, Anunoby wasn’t perfect but he was better than most. Maxey scored just 18 but there were moments where he looked unstoppable. Anunoby had 16 of his own and was the only starter on the plus-side of the plus-minus ledger.
B — Dennis Schroder and Jacob Poeltl
Poeltl is developing some really good scoring chemistry with Pascal Siakam and did a decent job on the boards despite fighting off Embiid all night. Defensively Embiid gave him all he could handle and then some, but Poeltl did not back down. The lone complaint where Embiid was concerned is the Raptors sent him to the line 13 times. If the big man doesn’t have to work for his points, he’s going to be a bigger problem than ever.
Schroder remains that nice steadying hand on Toronto’s offence but that offence reverted to some settling particularly when it came time to getting the ball in the paint. Too much passing around the perimeter and a reluctance to get the ball inside stalled the offence at times, but that wasn’t just Schroder. His 10 assists got him another double-double with the 13 points.
C+ — Malachi Flynn
Seemingly everyone’s favourite Raptors whipping boy, Flynn is finally starting to get rid of that tightness that has locked up his game. He’s playing freer and it showed Thursday night with six points, a couple of steals and three rebounds in 16 minutes. Those aren’t big numbers by any means but they represent a positive impact he had on the game.
C — Chris Boucher
Not a huge night in terms of impact but he was a force on the boards pulling down four rebounds in just 12 minutes, two of them on the offensive end where the Raps got owned.
D — Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr, Gradey Dick
A tough night for the Raptors most accomplished player and their two best floor spacers. Siakam got the Nick Nurse treatment where Nurse focuses his defence on the one player he doesn’t want to let beat him. To his credit Siakam shared the ball, finishing with six assists, but as one of the top two scorers on this team, he has to assert himself by times despite the attention. It didn’t feel like he did that Thursday.
Trent Jr. just isn’t in rhythm yet. A knockdown shooter, Trent was coming off a 0-for-5 night against Milwaukee so making two of his five threes was an improvement but a minus-15 on the night when the bench was finally getting contributions from the bottom part of the rotation made this a rough night overall for him.
Dick had one of his more trying nights after showing progress in the past few games. He didn’t make a shot, barely got one off and looked overwhelmed by the physicality of the game. Felt very much like those five makes from three in the first meeting with Philly got someone some added attention. Team-worst minus-17.
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THE OPPONENT GOING FORWARD
The Raptors see the Sixers twice more this season. Next meeting is three days before Christmas and the likelihood of a change in fortunes isn’t great.
Barring injury, the Sixers aren’t a team that is going to regress and they’ve already beaten Toronto twice. They are still very much finding their way with a new head coach with his own systems and for now are getting by primarily on the talent of Embiid, Maxey and Tobias Harris.
Moving on from James Harden has probably lifted a weight off this team even if it hurts their bottom line talent. The dividends of that have yet to be realized.
The additions of Robert Covington and Marcus Morris should make this a tougher team to play once they get integrated or in Covington’s situation re-integrated. We see this team getting better, not worse.