Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers eliminated in crushing loss to Toronto Raptors

Dave Uram
May 12, 2019 - 9:40 pm

Kawhi Leonard is no Vince Carter. 

Eighteen years after Carter's fadeaway two at the buzzer hit the rim and missed at then First Union Center, the Sixers season came to a disappointing end Sunday night in Toronto, as the Raptors took the best-of-seven conference semifinal with a 92-90 victory in decisive Game 7 thanks to a Leonard buzzer beating long two. Leonard was once again sensational with 41 points, including the game winning two at the buzzer that rimmed in after he faded away form the corner with Joel Embiid contesting the shot as best as he could. The Sixers big man was emotional afterwards, which is completely understandable. 

It's a heartbreaking loss that will sting for lifetime. 

But, the 76ers lost despite the heroics of Leonard. They let an opportunity slip because of their play throughout 48 minutes. 

Here are quick observations as to why they suffered this disappointing loss. 

Poor Execution Down The Stretch 

This game was very close in the final minutes, leaving the door open for the Sixers to steal this one. But, they had three straight possessions in a row that resulted in a shot clock violation, poor shot from Jimmy Butler and turnover. 

You’re not going to win games like that.

Greg Anthony brought up a great point on TNT--Embiid wasn't set up on the block in those late fourth quarter sequences. He should've been.  

Embiid Should’ve Played 48 Minutes 

To be 100 percent blunt—Embiid played poorly. His moves were weak offensively, he couldn’t make three’s and as a result of both of those, he couldn’t get going offensively until well into the fourth quarter. But, as was the case in Game 6, Embiid’s presence on the floor by itself is a massive advantage. 

His plus-minus wasn’t 40, but it was significant enough. When he was out for about two minutes in the first half, the Sixers were minus-9. When he was in, at least it was competitive. In the second half, the Sixers briefly went small ball to give Embiid some rest, but it quickly back fired and got Toronto back into it after a 16-0 Sixers run. Once Embiid returned, the momentum was too strong in the Raptors favor, thus they built on their lead despite the fact the Sixers crown jewel returned to the game. 

Embiid played bad, but his presence is irreplaceable. 

Back To “Regular Season Jimmy” 

Butler went back to being “Regular Season Jimmy,” the guy who isn’t the “adult” in the room and fades into the background for the first three quarters, until upping his level of play in the fourth--highlighted by a game tying layup with 4.2 seconds to go in the quarter. And while Butler was playing with pain in the fourth quarter after getting his foot stepped on, he still wasn’t the “Playoff Jimmy” we’ve become used to. 

Also, it’s not like he didn’t attempt shots offensively throughout the game. He did. They just didn’t go in. They needed to go in for the Sixers to advance. 

What Happened To Downhill, Aggressive Ben? 

Ben Simmons had only attempted four shots as the game approached the midway point of the fourth quarter. Even though he took six free throws at that point, Simmons needs shoot more, even if it’s close attempts in the paint. 

Rebounding Crushed The Sixers 

Toronto won the rebound battle, and that greatly hurt the 76ers. They gave up an inexcusable 16 offensive rebounds, including one to Serge Ibaka in the final seconds trailing by three. The Raptors shot poorly, but the Sixers gave them gift after gift with second chance opportunities. They ended up taking over 20 more shots than the 76ers, and you usually won't win games that end up like that. 

No Timeout During Raptors Late 3rd Quarter Run

When the Raptors went on their late third quarter run, in part because Embiid was briefly on the bench, Brown didn’t call a timeout, even though Toronto was getting offensive rebound after offensive rebound. I would’ve called a timeout to try to calm the game down. 

Toronto Bench Out Dueled Sixers 

The 76ers bench was better than Toronto’s for most of this series, except Game 7. Serge Ibaka was unbelievable, reaching double figures scoring while hitting multiple three’s. Meantime, Mike Scott and James Ennis III never got in the flow offensively for the 76ers, and Greg Monroe was a liability in two minutes of action filling in for Embiid.