The Toronto Raptors couldn’t handle the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers who let it rain from behind the arc in the second preseason game of the year
The second preseason game certainly wasn’t as pretty as the opener for the Toronto Raptors. With Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris back in the lineup, the Philadelphia 76ers jumped up early and were red-hot en route to a 125-113 victory.
Considering the Raptors are still just trying to get in sync we won’t nitpick too much, but there were certainly a few things to take away from the loss.
We won’t read too much into how the Raptors approached Joel Embiid on Thursday night. Prior to the game Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he wasn’t going to show any of his complex strategies for stopping Embiid. That being said, Toronto’s plan to send double and occasionally triple teams at Embiid created open looks from the 76ers’ shooters on the perimeter. Philadelphia isn’t going to shot 48.6% from behind the arc very often, but Toronto’s going to have to do a better job closing out on shooters if it’s going to be so hyper-aggressive on bigs like Embiid.
OG Flashes Playmaking Skills
It’s not always going to be pretty when OG Anunoby is handling the ball, but he appears to have improved in the playmaking department. He made a handful of really nice reads, finding Svi Mykhailiuk and Justin Champagnie for a pair of easy layups in the third quarter once he drew 76ers’ defensive attention. That’s not to mention his 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting.
The Raptors know their turnover numbers are going to go up this season. It’s not just all the new faces and youth on the roster, it’s the pace Toronto wants to play at. The more possessions, the more turnovers. But too many of Thursday’s 18 turnovers were a little more than just aggressive mistakes. The Raptors were a little sloppy, coughing up the ball with unforced errors.
There’s been a lot of focus on tweaking the shots of some of Toronto’s youngest players, but fixing the ball-handling of players like Dalano Banton would certainly help limit some of those killer turnovers.
Toronto went with the same starting unit as the preseason opener, Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, and Precious Achiuwa. Gary Trent Jr. was the first off the bench and he was followed by Freddie Gillespie, Champagnie, and Mykhailiuk. Gillespie once again struggled and was quickly replaced.
Banton came in next and didn’t look very sharp. He was followed by Malachi Flynn who showed a little bit more of that offensive aggression Nurse has been looking for.
Isaac Bonga and Reggie Perry came in for the final five minutes.
Ishmail Wainright, Sam Dekker, and David Johnson did not play.
A far less notable second game for Barnes who started the game firey, locking down his defender from end to end, but there wasn’t much else to celebrate. He finished with eight points on 3-for-7 shooting with five assists, three rebounds, and four fouls.
Watanabe Out, But On The Roster
Yuta Watanabe will likely miss the remainder of the preseason with a left calf strain he sustained in practice. In theory, it’s a tough break for considering he’s only on a partially guaranteed deal for this season, but Nurse all but confirmed the 26-year-old will make the roster this season.
“I better not say that officially quite yet, but listen, he’s played great,” Nurse said pre-game. “He’s been in our system and we really like him.”
Up Next: Boston Celtics
The Toronto Raptors will make a pitstop in Boston to take on the Celtics on Saturday night at 7 pm ET.