The Philadelphia 76ers returned home on Thursday night with their backs against the wall. After seeing the front office go all-in this season to win a championship, the team put together an all-in effort for a huge win in Game 6.
In a series where the stars never aligned for Philadelphia due to inconsistent performances from its stars, everything finally came together on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors fell short time after time in embarrassing fashion. The team with a little room to relax backed off too much and just opened the door to a series-deciding Game 7.
Here are the top takeaways from Philadelphia’s blowout win in a must-win situation in Game 6.
Ben Simmons finally shows up
Philadelphia’s most maligned starter finally gave the city something to celebrate in Game 6 with a critical performance in this must-win game.
The 22-year-old fueled Philadelphia’s strong start to the game with eight points and five assists in the first quarter after averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 assists per game across the five contests in this series. Thanks to his hot start in the first quarter, Philadelphia got the crowd on its side and he bought time for his teammates to get hot and then coast to an easy victory.
Raptors come out flat, open door to extinction
The Raptors came into this game knowing the 76ers would throw everything they had in this win-or-out scenario. Throughout Thursday’s battle, there was zero doubt which team played with something on the line and a desire to win
Toronto made just 17.6 percent of its 17 three-point attempts in the first half and frequently ran into trouble on the boards with eight offensive rebounds allowed. Even when Kawhi Leonard responded to Philadelphia’s first big run, the Raptors would allow the 76ers to fight right back and reclaim the double-digit lead.
This was Toronto’s chance to put away a team dealing with inconsistency from its star-packed lineup and it failed to close the door. Now the Raptors must hope a return home will be enough in Game 7 with the 76ers regaining their swagger.
Brett Brown’s faith in Boban backfires
If there’s one thing that Brown must learn from this game, it’s to never put Boban Marjanović on the floor during Game 7. If he fails to do so, then Brown must be held fully responsible for whatever happens in this series.
While fans might love to cheer for Marjanović, he is a liability on the court at all times in this series. He racked up a -15 plus/minus in just five minutes in the first half. That is unspeakably bad and should be more than enough evidence for Brown to keep Boban glued to the bench in Game 7.
Jimmy Butler comes up big
When Philadelphia traded for Butler, it dreamed of Jimmy Buckets stepping up big along his co-stars to lead this team to a title. At the very least, Butler delivered on his end of the deal. Jimmy Buckets did everything he possibly could to lift this team throughout the series and we saw it again in Game 6.
When the Raptors answered to a big run by the 76ers, Butler stole the momentum right back. Whether it was a clutch steal, rebound shot or assist, Butler made the big plays in critical stretches and kept the team’s dream alive going into Game 7.
Joel Embiid comes alive with a monster performance
Even when their shot isn’t falling or they are battling ailments, great players find different ways to impact the game. That’s exactly what we saw from one of the NBA’s youngest stars on Thursday night.
Embiid’s shot didn’t fall for most of the night, but he made his presence felt in other ways. He dominated on the boards and Embiid’s jaw-dropping block on Kawhi Leonard served as a spark for the crowd and a dagger into the Raptors’ heart.
This is the performance everyone knew Embiid was capable of, injuries and illness just kept it all from coming out. Now with Embiid, Butler and Simmons on fire, the Raptors could be in serious danger at home in Game 7.
Kawhi Leonard can’t carry the entire team any longer
There is no denying Leonard has been outstanding in this series and his monster performances carried the Raptors to this point. However, Toronto’s season and Leonard’s tenure in the city could be over if we see a repeat of Game 6.
While the 27-year-old performance on Thursday was the worst in this series thus far, he still played like one of the game’s best players and finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds in 40 minutes. Unfortunately for Leonard, none of his teammates showed up for the game in Philadelphia.
We know how badly Leonard wants this and there’s little doubt he will deliver an outstanding performance in Game 7, it just might not matter. If Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Marc Gasol can’t make a bucket or provide adequate defense, then this series is over and Leonard will be left seriously questioning if Toronto is the place for him this offseason as a free agent.