Joel Embiid finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds as the 76ers dominated the Raptors to take a 2-1 series lead. The 76ers defense enabled them to win a contested game two, and game three Philly was no different. The 76ers stifling defense held the Raptors to 36% shooting from the field and a frosty 27% from three. in Game 3 the 76ers ran shooters off the three-point line and were able to contest the Raptors at the rim.
As a team, they finished with 8 blocks, and Embiid was able to anchor the paint accounting for five blocks. The result was 42% shooting from the field and 27% from three. Kawhi Leonard had another impressive game finishing with 33 points and Pascal Siakam added 20 points, but they got no help from their teammates. All-Star guard Kyle Lowry was a no show shooting 2-10 from the field and 0-4 from three finishing with 7 points.
Lowry struggling in the playoffs is not a new narrative. At some point the question has to be asked can Kyle Lowry be the second best or third best option on a championship contender? As a number two option, the answer is no, and a third option it really depends on the matchup. Ben Simmons has matched up on Lowry during the series and has presented Lowry with a myriad of challenges on the offensive end. Simmons length and athleticism allows him to the ability to move his feet and contest shots have caused Lowry to struggle.
Ultimately Kyle Lowry is a good player, but there are levels when it comes to separating the good from the great players in the NBA. Toronto’s role players have struggled this entire series. This can be accredited to Philly’s defense. Danny Green, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet have been non-existent and struggled mightily on the offensive end.
In game one they shot a combined 9-24 from the field and 3-7 from three. In game two, they were a disastrous 3-21 from the field and an abominable 2-12 from three. Last night was much of the same they shot 9-28 from the field and 3-12 from three. So those keeping score in three games they’re combined 28% from the field and 25% from three ouch!!!
Obviously, if they shoot like this not only will the lose the series, but they won’t win another game. Philly deserves a lot of credit for completely taking the Raptors apart. Jimmy Butler has scored 30 and 22 points in the last two games. Tobias Harris and JJ Redick both were in double figures last night, and James Ennius continues his strong play off the bench. Ennis is averaging 11 points for the series an along with Greg Monore have outplayed Toronto’s bench.
The ceremonial playoff tension that takes place this time of year in Toronto is at an all-time high. With LeBron James leaving the eastern conference and joining the west it was supposed to be the Raptors year. Trading for All-NBA performer Kawhi Leonard at the beginning of the season and added veteran all-star Marc Gasol was supposed to ensure an NBA finals appearance.
Now it may not even mean an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. The elephant in the room is the Kawhi Leonard free agency this summer. Rumors have been swirling around, and it is a foregone conclusion that Leonard leaves regardless of the Raptors outcome. The Raptors would have a better chance of possibly getting Kawhi to resign longterm if they at least make the finals.
If they get eliminated by Philly in a dominating fashion you might as well book Kawhi’s plane ticket to LA, because there is no way he's going to resign. The series is far from over, but if you are the Raptors game four is a must win. The talent is in place to still win the series, but they definitely have some soul searching to do.