And now, after seeing Leonard put up 45 points in Toronto's 108-95 victory in Game 1 of this series, it's up to Brown to figure out how to slow that superstar when the series resumes with Game 2 on the Raptors' home floor Monday night.
Sixers coach Brett Brown has said from the start of the series that he fears the Raptors' three-point shooting, and that the threat of it prevents them from aggressively double-teaming scorers like Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.
Leonard, Green, and Siakam had nine apiece to end the quarter; and so did Embiid, who lead a long list of Sixers' scorers. Embiid made both free throws as fans - including some of Philadelphia's biggest sports stars - serenaded him with chants of 'MVP!
The franchise center's sweetest play came when he blocked Leonard's layup in the lane, hustled back and got the ball in his hands, and connected with Tobias Harris in the corner for a 3. The Sixers, who also have a weak bench, have found a solid answer of their own, sending some of their starters out earlier in the game and mixing in the bench players at that point to try to keep more starters on the floor at all times and using their bench guys to complement the stars, and that has allowed them to take advantage of the Raptors' bench minutes with their starters who are in the mix.
But they missed six of their first seven shots in the final period and the 76ers held on for the win.
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The Sixers were grateful with a series split against the Raptors after suffering a losing streak in Toronto that dated to 2012. We've all got to help him. Not only is Lowry expected to win every loose ball and routinely step in for charges on players twice his size, but Lowry's also called upon to run track meets with J.J. Redick while also muscling up against Butler when the Raptors go small. His starting five has an extraordinary basketball IQ - Kyle Lowry said on Sunday that the Raptors could match anyone on that score - and, when coupled with the talents of Leonard and the ascendant Pascal Siakam, sometimes all the head coach has to do is make sure everyone makes it to the bus on time. "Even when I came to Philadelphia, those years that I was in Philadelphia looking in the rear-view mirror of him evolving under Pop and in the San Antonio Spurs' system, you could just see this thing's trending in an incredible way". "I think we're not getting a ton of action out of that", VanVleet said.
Toronto lost six of its first eight shots, just like they had done in the first quarter of the game. Leonard was a ideal 6-for-6 in the quarter, and a running dunk by Siakam capped a 15-8 Raptors run that pulled Toronto to within eight points. We might be a little better off than 2-1, but it's been like this all year for me.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Perhaps there is an alternative timeline in the world where the Toronto Raptors didn't fire Dwane Casey.
Embiid struck a chord when he buried a 3 in the third that stretched Philadelphia's lead to 12. But when Simmons attempted to get up, he elbowed Lowry in the groin, causing the Raptors player to go down in pain. We've all got to help him.
"That's normally the case from the team that goes down 0-1 or loses the last game", Nurse said pre-game.
Jimmy Butler has been the adult in the gym for the 76ers.
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