Sixers crush Raptors, force Game 7

Dave Uram
May 10, 2019 - 6:59 am

Looking for a Mother’s Day present? How about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals? 

Your 76ers annihilated the Raptors in Game 6 112-101 at an electric Wells Fargo Center. Decisive Game 7 is Sunday night in Toronto at 7p.m., with a trip to the Conference Finals on the line. 

“I’ve been fortunate to be in a few Game 7’s and they’re very unique,” head coach Brett Brown said. “They’re special. They are a life lesson, a life opportunity.” 

Lessons were clearly learned from Game 5’s embarrassment, and they need to be carried over into this weekend. The Sixers won Game 6 because of their “Big 3”—Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, with each taking turns in their own, unique way under the spotlight. 

Embiid’s Impact Is Irreplaceable 

Embiid was anything but a juggernaut offensively. His final numbers indicate that. However, he had the greatest impact on the game—something the box score can only show in plus-minus category. 

He was an unheard of plus-40. Whenever he was on the bench, the Raptors made their runs. Whenever he returned, the Sixers built a comfortable lead. 

Brown attempted to try Boban Marjanovic as his sub in Game 6, and it turned into a disastrous minus-18. He even tried Mike Scott as Embiid’s sub in one rotation, but then lost rim protection as a result. 

Simply put, Embiid needs to play at least 48 minutes Sunday night. 

“It’s the playoffs,” Embiid said. “I got to play. If I got to play 45 minutes and push myself out there, that’s what I got to do. If that’s what it takes to win and my presence on the court is needed, I got to be better. It doesn’t matter if it takes the whole game. And I’m fine with it.” 

IT’S JIMMYYYYYYYY

“I’ve said this before—there is an adult in the room when he’s on the court,” Brown said of Butler’s continued playoff imprint on the Sixers. “The athletic plays that he makes, the physical plays that he makes, he’s a tank. And he’s just so strong. And when he has that sort of laser focus and you got that body to back it up, incredible things happen offensively and defensively.” 

Butler continues to be the “adult” in the room and needs to be extended long term—like, right now—literally.  He was made for Philadelphia. 

His 25-point performance was another dose of “Playoff Jimmy.” He scored 19 of those points in the firs half, and 11 in the second quarter—walking off the floor with his hands above his head as the crowd chanted “JIMMY BUTLER!.” 

“Playoff Jimmy” is going to need to keep in going in Game 7. While Embiid’s health and Simmons’ aggression has been questionable throughout the postseason, he has been the guy you can count on to deliver almost every night. 

He scores. He finds his teammates. He plays defense. And most probably most importantly, he makes big time plays that result in fans rising to the occasion—whether it’s an AND-1 off his own miss fading away or a steal with time winding down in the second quarter leading to a fast break bucket.

“I think right now this is what I have to do in order to give us a great chance of winning,” Butler said. “I think from game-to-game, from series-to-series, the role could change. I’m cool with it. Like I always say, I just want to win.” 

He is the leader on this team and should be considered a key part of the core going forward for years to come. 

That’s More Like It, Ben 

Simmons had more points and assists in the first quarter than he did in Game 5 altogether. He was more aggressive and engaged offensively. The tempo and flow the team played with from the jump was much better than earlier this week, and that improvement was in large part thanks to Simmons. 

Simply put, he always needs to play downhill, create and shoot. Even if he’s not making them—which he did Thursday night—Simmons taking shots is critical to the 76ers success. 

Pregame, he was caught having a chat with Sixers legend Julius Erving. He wouldn’t say what Dr. J told him, only that it “could’ve” helped him. 

Ok, Ben.

Whatever type of pregame routine Simmons went through to get himself ready for Game 6, he needs to find a way to duplicate that Sunday night. 

“Going out there and doing everything I can to win,” Simmons said, “and the end result is going to be the end result. Everyone had that same mentality. I think it was just going out there, playing hard and not regretting anything.” 

Mike Scott With Big Minutes Off The Bench

Embiid, Butler and Simmons can’t do it by themselves. The Sixers are going to need some sort of role player to contribute. Mike Scott did that Thursday night, hitting huge three’s off the bench, finishing with 11 points. 

Tobi and JJ Still Not Good Enough 

Overall, Game 6 was an extremely positive victory, and one Sixers fans should feel really good about heading to Game 7. 

But, there are still some things that can improve, and that’s the performances of Tobias Harris and JJ Redick. Both finished in double figures, but continue to shoot poorly. If either of them can get it going Sunday, it will go a long way. 

Toronto’s Shooting Percentage

The Sixers won this game, but Toronto certainly didn’t help themselves with all the open jumpers they missed. They shot 25 percent from three. Give credit to the Sixers, but they’re unlikely to be that bad again. Sixers must be ready, which wasn’t the case in Game 5. 

Referees Call Unnecessary Flagrant on Embiid

Embiid got called for a flagrant one for catching Marc Gasol in the face in the fourth quarter trying to go up for a rebound. Embiid is one flagrant point away from getting suspended for a game. 

He’s not happy about it. 

“It’s annoying, stupid,” Embiid said. “I feel like the one in Brooklyn should’ve been rescinded. Tonight, it’s just basketball. I didn’t mean to do it. I just happened to hit him in the face, I guess, and didn’t mean to do it.

“And it just happened. A lot of things like that happen. I got hit in the face in the first half by Pascal (Siakam), but kind of like the same situation, that wasn’t a flagrant. And I saw the video of it. I mean, it doesn’t look that bad. It’s tough.” 

I agree with Embiid. Referee Zach Zarba  told the ESPN broadcast it was “unnecessary” contact. But, it’s not like he did it on purpose. Basketball is a physical, fast moving sport. 

If the Embiid doesn’t rescind this latest flagrant, Embiid is at risk of missing a game—assuming the Sixers move on. 

Wink, wink—nudge, nudge—they will.​

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