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Takeaways from Sixers' loss to Raptors

Dave Uram
December 05, 2018 - 10:37 pm
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The Sixers four game winning streak is over after a 113-102 loss to the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. With the defeat, the 76ers fall to 17-9, while the Raptors improve to 21-5. 

Even though Brett Brown’s squad is clearly a rising team in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Jimmy Butler, the Raptors remain royalty for now.

"We can better assess our group after Christmas," Brown told reporters in Toronto after the game. "This was a tremendous opportunity to learn more and we leave disappointed, but we also leave smarter in the areas we have to get better at." 

Here are three takeaways from the loss.

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

In the Sixers first meeting of the season at the Raptors, a 17 point loss, they committed 23 turnovers that led to 29 Toronto points. On Wednesday night they finished with 21 turnovers that resulted in 27 points for the Raptors. 

"It's like half the game," Brown said. "Forty-nine points is an enormous number. You look at the discrepancy of just shot attempts. It's for those reasons."

And because of the turnovers and offensive rebounds, Toronto took 12 more shots than the 76ers, which isn't a good formula for beating the team with the best record in the NBA.

Kawhi Leonard was dominant while Joel Embiid was invisible

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 on the 76ers back in October. It’s safe to say if the Sixers were going to win this game, they would need to do a better job against the former San Antonio Spur. That certainly wasn’t the case as Leonard reached the 31 point mark in the third and finished with 36.

The addition of Butler to the Sixers didn’t make that much of a difference. He did his job finishing with 38 points on 15-of-27 from the floor, while JJ Redick scored 25, but Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons only tallied 10 and eight respectively.

Embiid was especially disappointing, going five-of-17 from the field. Meantime, Jonas Valanciunas put up 26 points in only 18 minutes off the bench.

"I sucked," Embiid honestly stated after the loss. 

"(I) wasn't making anything," Embiid said. "In fact, the past few games I've been so trash, so (I) got to figure it out if I want to help the team win some games." 

In addition to being highly critical of his game, Embiid brought up interesting possible reason for his struggles. The big man feels he's hanging out around the three point line too much, taking away opportunities for him on the block. 

"A lot of times, actually, with the way our plays are set up, I tend to spend a lot of time on the perimeter, so that's just an adjustment we got to make with the coaches and figure it out how to keep me down low," Embiid said. 

Leonard improves to 12-0 lifetime against the Sixers. That will obviously need to change if the Sixers are going to make it to the NBA Finals. 

Late second quarter and early fourth quarter runs for Toronto

The Raptors didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the first half, finishing only 38.9% from the floor. If it wasn’t for that, Toronto could’ve easily ran away with this game like they did in October. Leonard’s dominance aside, the Raptors won this game thanks to a couple of big runs, one coming early in the fourth quarter and the other late in the second.

Jimmy Butler drilled a three pointer with 4:09 left in the second quarter for a 46-40 lead, but the Raptors followed with a 13-3 run to close the half, including 13-0 from 3:51 left to 29.8 seconds.

During that scoreless stretch, the Sixers were 0-for-five with four of their 14 first half turnovers. In addition to the giveaways, Toronto out-rebounded the Sixers 30 to 20 in the first 24 minutes, with 12 of those coming on the offensive end.

After the 76ers outscored the Raptors 28-25 in the third to get back in the game, Toronto went on a 13-2 run early in the fourth to build an 11 point lead.​

​Final Takeaway

It's only December, so this disappointing loss can go away quickly if the Sixers beat the Pistons Friday in Detroit. Make no mistake, though, this was absolutely a litmus test for Brown's improved roster, and the addition of Butler alone wasn't enough to top Leonard and the Raptors. Gradual improvements will need to continue, especially in the turnovers and defensive rebound departments. 

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