Raptors destroy Sixers with total team effort, take 3-2 series lead


This game wasn’t the Battle of Winterfell, it was much more the Red Wedding.

From the opening tip, the Raptors were living up to their namesakes — hungry, aggressive, and defensively attacking in packs. On offense, Toronto drove to the basket in a way we had not seen consistently earlier in the series.

Philly’s defense retreated into more of a shell to stop those drives, which opened up kick-out passes for open Toronto threes. Which the Raptors knocked down (something they have not done consistently this series).

Then the rout was on.

Especially with Kawhi Leonard doing this.

Toronto outscored Philadelphia 37-17 in the second quarter to lead by 21 at the half, and they never were seriously challenged after that, going on to win 125-89.

The Raptors now lead the series 3-2 heading back to Philadelphia for Game 4 Thursday night.

It can’t be a worse night for the Sixers at home — this was an everything that could go wrong went wrong kind of game. Joel Embiid, who was a game-time decision with an upper respiratory issue, had 13 points and 8 turnovers, and was just not himself defensively. Ben Simmons disappeared into the background and had 7 points on the night. Jimmy Butler was the best of the Sixers and he finished with 22 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and when he went to the bench Philly fell apart.

“Forget about it,” Jimmy Butler said when asked how to bounce back from this showing for a must-win Game 6. “Hell, if I was the coach I wouldn’t even show the film. Move on. We got our a** kicked. Simple as that. No other way to put it. We know what we have to do and so we got to go do it at home.”

The big story in this game was that Leonard did not have to carry the Raptors offense.

Philadelphia kept throwing double-teams at him from different angles, and Leonard had 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting in the first half — he was not what we had seen earlier in this series where he had been an unstoppable force. However, all the attention he drew open things up for everyone else.

Pascal Siakam had 25 points and was back to his normal self, putting on a clinic at points. Kyle Lowry had 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Danny Green had 17 points and was 5-of-7 from three. Toronto had six players in double figures. Even Fred Van Vleet had his best game of the season.

To cap it all off, Leonard did this to Embiid.

This is not a game Philadelphia can take anything away from, other than they can’t play like this again on Thursday or the discussion will shift to where Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are playing next season.