The Toronto Raptors started fast and never looked back on Wednesday, and the visiting Philadelphia 76ers will look for an answer to that in the rematch on Friday night.
Led by 15 points from Pascal Siakam, the Raptors had a 35-27 advantage after the first quarter on Wednesday in their 119-109 victory over the 76ers.
“When you look at the box, and all the quarters after that are basically even,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s the first quarter that we got off to such a slow start and their key guys got going. We gifted guys shots early. Their shots, mixed coverages.”
Siakam finished with 20 points and matched his career best with 13 assists.
“Every year (Siakam’s) ball handling has improved, his shooting has improved, his mid-game has improved,” Rivers said. “Understanding where to get his shots from. Playing him in the playoffs last year you could really see it. He is a bona fide star in the league. He is just tough and that all comes from work. That is not an inborn act. He put some time in and it shows.”
Gary Trent Jr. scored 16 of his 27 points in the third quarter for the Raptors. All five starters had double figures in scoring, including Scottie Barnes, who returned from missing one game with a sprained ankle to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds.
“I think we’d love to draw it up like that every night,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “It doesn’t happen very often. But you can’t really draw it up. That’s just a product of taking what is there and a little bit of everything was there (Wednesday).”
The Raptors played an unselfish game and had a season-best 32 assists.
“What makes them so difficult (is that) other teams have to find the point guard or two guard to bring the ball up,” Rivers said. “Anyone can bring it up on that team.”
The Raptors shot 54.8 percent — including 43.2 percent on 3-pointers — from the field. The 76ers shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent on 3-pointers.
“If you shoot 51 percent, the defense has to hold up on the other (end),” said Tyrese Maxey, who scored 31 points for Philadelphia. “We’ve got to keep working on it, and keep getting better and better. It’s still early. So we can actually work on it.”
“It’s all about effort,” said Joel Embiid, who also scored 31 points for the Sixers. “You’ve got to be honest about it. It doesn’t matter what the coaching staff says. It doesn’t matter what the game plan is. If we don’t go out there and execute, we are not going to go anywhere. So it’s all about effort, having the mentality of playing hard and having each other’s back and just flying around.”
The 76ers have lost four of their first five games.
After taking the opener of a three-game homestand on Wednesday, the Raptors are 3-2 to start the season and have won two straight.
“I think whatever we were doing (Wednesday), it had us active,” Nurse said. “It seemed like we didn’t create a lot of turnovers but there was a lot of disruption anyway.”
When Siakam and Christian Koloko of the Raptors and Embiid shared the floor on Wednesday, it was the first time that three players from Cameroon were on an NBA court in a game together.
Also, Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. is taking a leave from the team due to personal reasons, Nurse announced Thursday. Porter has yet to play for the Raptors since signing a two-year, $12.3 million contract on July 6. He is nursing a lingering hamstring injury.
–Field Level Media