Sixers give away too many gifts as losses pile up

Sixers give away too many gifts as losses pile up


TORONTO —  The Sixers stayed within striking distance, but by the time the third quarter was over Saturday night, a familiar story was unfolding against the Toronto Raptors. 

The Sixers crept to within four points during the quarter, but then the Raptors took control and led by 18 points entering the fourth quarter.

DeMar DeRozan, who had a career-best 45 points against the Sixers on Thursday, came back with 29 Saturday in Toronto’s 102-86 victory.

The Raptors are 18-1 against the Sixers since the 2013-2014 season, with two of the wins coming this week.

Toronto has won six in a row and 12 of their last 13, while the Sixers have lost five in a row and nine of 10.

 Joel Embiid, who had a fast start, returned the Sixers' lineup, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 17 points.   

• Embiid (back tightness) started after being listed as questionable up until game time and was loose enough to score the team’s first eight points of the game, including a three-pointer. He also missed one of two free throws, had three rebounds and a blocked shot during his opening six-minute spree. After Embiid took the Sixers' first six shots, Ben Simmons took the next two, hitting one.

• JJ Redick (right hamstring tightness) missed his second consecutive game Saturday.

• Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot closed out the first-quarter scoring with a three-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 27 apiece.  

• Neither team had a second-chance point in the first quarter. The Sixers did not even have a second-chance opportunity, while the Raptors were 0 for 3 on their second-chance efforts.

• Sixers coach Brett Brown was tabbed with a technical foul with 4:21 to play in the first half and DeMar DeRozan converted from the foul line to give Toronto a 44-38 lead.

• The process is a road littered with turnovers, it seems. The Sixers, entering the game with a league-leading average of 18 turnovers, had 14 in the first half, leading to 21 Toronto points. The Sixers finished with 23 turnovers.

• The Raptors led by 13 early in the third quarter, but the Sixers whittled that deficit to four with 6:15 left in the quarter on a free throw by Dario Saric. Then the Raptors got busy, with DeRozan hitting a couple of three-pointers. Delon Wright making a driving layup and by the time the surge was over, Toronto led 81-63 after three quarters.

• Toronto’s Serge Ibaka made an impressive dunk late in the game to give the Raptors a 16-point lead, and a parade of reserves came on. It was game over. The Sixers, however, did outscore Toronto 23-21 in the fourth quarter.

• The Sixers will visit the Knicks on Monday, a noon start on Christmas Day.

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

AP Images/ USA Today Images

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

Brett Brown sat at the podium with a puzzled look on his face as he stared at the box score.

Sure, he’d likely already been told that the Sixers had a season-high 27 turnovers in their 106-102 Game 4 win over the Miami Heat. But it’s one thing to hear it from someone else and another to see it written down in black and white.

“The fact that you can actually win a playoff game with this volume of turnovers is mind-boggling,” Brown said.

The Sixers’ level of carelessness on Saturday was equally astonishing.

For three quarters, the Sixers resembled the regular-season version of the team we have become accustomed to seeing over the years under Brown. They had the ball stolen on dribble moves and their passes intercepted. They had passes sail out of bounds and committed offensive fouls.

Simply put, the Sixers were tripping over themselves to give the ball back to the Heat.

“The first three periods, I was shocked to look up at the scoreboard and not feel like you’re just down 15, 14, 18 given the way the game went,” Brown said.

“I’m shocked that we won this game. We really didn’t have a right to win this game. I thought that, defensively, in the first three periods, we were a C-minus. I thought that our turnovers were an F.”

While a lot of that had to do with the Sixers’ own sloppiness, the Heat’s level of desperation was certainly a factor.

“Coming into this game this afternoon, you know you’re going to get the Miami Heat’s best,” Brown said. “It’s a culture of winning. They’ve won championships. Spo’s (Erik Spoelstra) a hell of a coach. You knew they were going to be all wound up. Like I said before, you didn’t have to be a mystic to guess what this was going to look like. 

“And they jumped us and we didn’t handle it well. We had multiple turnovers. I thought in Game 3 we responded to the physicality with only 12 and we did some things fundamentally more correct. There were several times in tonight’s game that they got the better of us and this environment got the better of us a little bit.”

Not when it mattered most.

The Sixers committed just three of those 27 turnovers in the fourth quarter as they dominated another final period to finish off the comeback.

And while the Sixers know they will never reach their playoff goals if they continue giving the ball away at such a rapid rate, they were pleased the team could stop the bleeding in crunch time with the game on the line.

“I think we did a great job of coming back, staying poised and playing as a team,” Ben Simmons said. “Going through our structured plays, whatever it is, defensively and offensively.” 

“I feel that we have been trending in a way that the fourth-period execution, the fourth-period mentality — defensively driven — has been our identity,” Brown said. “Then you go to the other side and say, well, we did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over. Three turnovers, by our standards, is an A-plus.”

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

MIAMI — For the 13 first rounds Dwyane Wade has played in, the current Sixers-Heat matchup has made a strong impression.

“They’re good,” Wade said. “They’re special. They’re a good group. They put the right team together.”

Sitting at the podium, Wade spent a good amount of time during his press conference praising the team that has put the Heat on the brink of elimination. He’s been on the winning side often, including three championships, so he recognizes a unique team when he sees it. 

“This definitely is one of the best first-round series I’ve ever played in, first-round opponent,” Wade said.

The Sixers have gone up 3-1 on the Heat with a roster that is balanced both positionally and in experience. Seven players finished in double digits Saturday and only veteran JJ Redick had more than 20 points. Ben Simmons, with whom Wade already has a relationship (see story), recorded his first career playoff triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). He became the youngest player to do so since Wade’s former teammate LeBron James back in 2006. 

"I give a lot of credit to their point guard, their leader, Ben,” Wade said. “He does a great job of getting them settled, getting the ball to his guys, and keep feeding confidence to them.”

Wade described the Sixers as having “an edge.” They will use it to test the Heat Tuesday when the series returns to Philadelphia. Wade encourages his teammates to play with maturity and withstand the Sixers’ runs. The Heat split the first two games at the Wells Fargo Center. 

“They’re going to play with pace, play with speed, play physical,” Wade said. “Obviously they’re going to play with their crowd. It’s going to be a high energy type of game from them … All we’ve got to do is just worry about this one game and giving everything we have for that game. You walk out of that game, you gave everything you had, you can live with whatever result is there at the end.”

Wade, 36, has had vintage moments against the Sixers in this series. He led all players with 28 points off the bench in the Heat’s Game 2 win. On Sunday, he scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. 

Asked about the possibility of this game against the Sixers being his last game in Miami playing for the Heat, Wade said, “I won’t answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game and trying to win that one.”

What he will answer is questions about his competition. 

"They’re a very good team," Wade said. "I can’t say nothing negative about them at all. So far they’ve been great opponents.”