Even at two heading into Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 5, the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors were both seemingly in win now mode.
Teams that gain that 3-2 advantage in the playoffs normally tend to advance to the next round. In this case, the Raptors absolutely dominated their counterparts by the score of 125-89.
Youngster Pascal Siakam was brilliant in a game that saw Kawhi Leonard struggle a tad from the perimeter. Meanwhile, the Sixers just couldn’t get anything going offensively.
What does this tell us about Joel Embiid’s health and Ben Simmons performance? These are among the top takeaways from Toronto’s 36-point win over Philadelphia in Game 5 Tuesday night.
Pascal Siakam aggressive and dominant
The NBA’s most improved player was initially doubtful for Game 4 after pulling up lame with a calf injury. Fortunately for the Raptors, Siakam was able to go. Unfortunately, he was nowhere near 100 percent. The former first-round pick dropped nine points on just 2-of-10 shooting.
Having averaged north of 20 points per game in the playoffs, Toronto needed Siakam back to his old self in Game 5 Tuesday. From the get, it appeared that he was closer to 100 percent. Siakam dropped nine points in the first quarter. From there, he was in absolute domination mode. Siakam finished the night with 25 points and eight boards. Toronto was plus-35 in the 34 minutes he played.
Joel Embiid is nowhere near 100 percent
It’s rather clear that the game’s most-skilled big man is a shell of his former self. Dealing with both a knee injury and an illness, game 5 magnified this to a T. In his first 12 minutes, Embiid tallied as many turnovers (four) as field goal attempts. Philly was also minus-8 with him on the court during that span.
Embiid’s performance didn’t get much better before he was pulled in a 30-plus point game early in the fourth quarter. The All-Star finished Game 5 with 13 points while committing a whopping eight turnovers. Some of those giveaways were unforced. One has to wonder if Embiid will be anywhere near 100 percent for a pivotal Game 6 come Thursday evening.
Where in the world is Ben Simmons?
The Sixers can’t expect to advance in the playoffs without Simmons being somewhat aggressive. The first half of Tuesday’s game saw the highly criticized youngster score just five points on four attempts from the field. He also turned the ball over three times while dishing out just two assists.
Much like the rest of his Sixers squad, things did not get better after intermission. A lack of aggressiveness in driving the ball the hoop led to Simmons attempting a total of five shots. He also had more turnovers (five) than assists (four) throughout the game. Toronto obviously isn’t a good matchup for the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.
Serge Ibaka was a bad man
This underrated veteran was hit in the head by a Kawhi Leonard elbow early in the game. It forced Ibaka back into the locker room to get stitches. Later in the opening half, Ibaka was hit in the jaw while committing his third foul of the game. Despite this, Toronto finished plus-27 with Ibaka on the court.
Sure the veteran tallied just 10 points and two rebounds. But his impact was felt. In a series that has seen Toronto’s bench struggle a great deal, he was a welcomed presence in Game 5. That’s for sure.
JJ Redick was nearly unplayable
Reddick’s biggest impact comes from beyond the arc. Heading into Game 5, the veteran was shooting at a career-best 43% from three-point range in the playoffs. For whatever reason, he was gun shy in this one. Redick attempted three shots in the first half with the Sixers finishing at minus-20 in his 18 minutes.
With Toronto pretty much daring Redick to shoot in the second half, he passed up open look after open look. The Raptors also took advantage of the veteran’s lack of defense throughout the evening. In the end, Redick finished with three points on 1-of-6 shooting. Philly was minus-21 in the 31 minutes he played.
No looking back for the Raptors
Toronto absolutely dominated from start of the second quarter on. Its home fans were into the game big time. The team’s supporting cast stepped up in an eventual 36-point victory. It was a brilliant overall display from the team, postseason failure Kyle Lowry included.
Now heading into Game 6 in Philadelphia, there’s no looking back for these Raptors. They must take advantage of a struggling Sixers squad and end this in six. If not, memories of postseason failures could haunt this team heading into a potential do-or-die Game 7 matchup.