The 76ers improved to 12-0 at home with Sunday’s 110-104 win over the Toronto Raptors. Here are some takeaways from the game that saw the Sixers improve to 17-7.
Ben Simmons displayed his most aggressive mindset when scoring a career-high 34-points in Saturday’s rout of Cleveland. He continued that attacking mentality against Toronto, In the half when the Sixers took a 57-42 lead, he had a plus-13 rating simply because he was pushing the ball up the court at every chance and when he didn’t score, he was feeding players. Simmons was frequently guarded by a solid defender OG Anunoby and he was able to blow by him on several occasions.
The Sixers used three different defenders on Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry in the first half alone. Ben Simmons began the game guarding him but James Ennis and Matisse Thybulle took turns defending him. Lowry is an indefatigable player, who has a motor that won’t stop, even against multiple defenders. He is the key to the Raptors attack and he played well but his teammates were missing too many open shots.
The Sixers weren’t sure if Thybulle would play after he rolled his ankle in Saturday’s win, but he not only played, but made a major difference, on both ends of the court. This was one of the few games where his offense outshone his defense. On two of three possessions in the third quarter he hit three’s to extend the lead to 71-53. Thybulle looks so much more confident taking the three than he did at the start of the season.
Too many times Toronto gave Tobias Harris too much space from the three-point area. Harris took advantage of the opportunities. What has helped his game is that if defenders come up on him to defend the shot, he can put the ball off the floor and shoot off the dribble. His game is showing more versatility.
Toronto’s Marc Gasol did another solid job defending Joel Embiid, but his lack of offense really hurt the Raptors. He once averaged as many as 19.5 points, but entered the game averaging 6.2 points and doesn’t look for his shot much. This allowed the Sixers to play off of him. If he isn’t hitting that standstill long three, Gasol is a liability on offense.
Realizing what an offensive weapon Toronto’s Pascal Siakam is, the Sixers did a good job of double-teaming him every time he put the ball on the floor. The Sixers started with Al Horford guarding him, but Simmons spent the majority of the second half defending Siakam, who struggled throughout the game, while forcing several shots. If he is off, Toronto has a difficult chance winning.