Sixers add another chapter to collapse chronicles

Sixers add another chapter to collapse chronicles


Another third quarter. Another letdown. 

The shorthanded Sixers led Toronto by 22 points with 9:09 minutes to play in the quarter and let the streaking Raptors right back in the game. From that point on, the Raptors wrapped up the third on a 32-12 spurt while the Sixers went scoreless for nearly four minutes. 

The Raptors won, 114-109.

The Sixers (14-17) have lost four in a row and eight of their last nine, dating back to the Suns’ game. 

This was not the opponent to show a window of opportunity. The Raptors (22-8) entered the night on a four-game winning streak. They now have won 11 of their last 12.

Joel Embiid was ruled out after going through his pregame warmups. JJ Redick also was sidelined because of hamstring tightness. Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless started in their places. 

• DeMar DeRozan dominated the Raptors’ offense from the beginning. He scored 15 points in the first quarter alone, en route to a blockbuster, career-high 45-point performance. DeRozan netted a career-high six treys against the Sixers. His previous season high was just three. 

• Dario Saric stepped up in the two starters’ absence. He neared a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Saric was active, coming up with two blocks and two steals.

• Ben Simmons was more aggressive looking for his own shot. The facilitator mixed in jump shots at the encouragement of Brett Brown and drew contact. He finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists (below his season average 7.9). Simmons went 2 for 5 from the line. 

• The Sixers’ offense slowed nearly the exact same time as the previous game. In Tuesday’s loss to the Kings, they were up 16 with 9:07 remaining in the third. They were outscored 22-13 from that point on in the quarter. 

• Reserve guard Delon Wright poured in 12 points during the Raptors’ key third quarter.

• The arena became deafening loud with boos when Simmons was whistled for an offensive foul after a drive against Wright with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter (Sixers down 107-104). The jeers continued on the next possession. Robert Covington was called for a foul trying to swipe the ball from DeRozan, who hit both free throws.

• Speaking of free throws, the Raptors did serious damage at the line. They shot 32 for 35, making up for 30.7 percent of their total points. 

• And no, this game wasn’t without turnover woes. On either side actually. Both teams gave up 32 points off turnovers, and both starting point guards (Simmons and Kyle Lowry) committed seven. 

• The Sixers and Raptors will face off again in two days when the Sixers travel to Toronto. 

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Sixers have already embraced key aspects of NBA postseason

Perhaps the Sixers have been underestimated a bit.

Outside of Joel Embiid’s health, all of the chatter going into the playoffs was about how the relatively inexperienced roster would handle the big stage. 

Sure, the team has a crop of veterans that have been there and done that. However, young impact players such as Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were all getting their first taste of the postseason.

So how are they feeling about it to this point?

“I love it,” Embiid said at Friday’s practice. “I live for these moments. I thrive in this type of atmosphere. I think I was built for this, especially playoff basketball.”

Embiid appears particularly fond of the postseason in environments where the Sixers are short on support.

After missing the first two games of the series in Philadelphia while still recovering from orbital fracture surgery, Embiid stepped back into the starting lineup on the road in Miami.

Was getting barked at by rowdy fans in hostile territory going to be a problem? Not for the villain now known as “The Phantom of the Process.”

“I actually think I play better on the road because I just love the atmosphere,” Embiid said. “I just love looking around the arena, people booing, people going against us. That just takes my game to another level.”

The Sixers’ performance isn’t the only thing that has been taken up a notch. Their intensity level and physicality have jumped in this first-round matchup with the bruising Heat.

“I said it before, I wish it was like this all season,” said Simmons, who is averaging 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game in the series. “I’m enjoying it. It’s very competitive and that’s the type of basketball I want to play.”

“It’s basketball. It’s fun,” Justin Anderson said. “Playing like that is fun. Every possession matters. You can tell there’s not a lot of empty possessions. Guys are getting shots up on every possession.

“… It’s intensified. It’s just basketball. It’s the best basketball in the world, and we’re putting ourselves in a position to hopefully go and get another one in Game 4.”

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

Heat's Justise Winslow fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid's mask

The NBA dished out some swift justice on Friday night.

Heat swingman Justise Winslow was fined $15,000 by the league for unsportsmanlike conduct after intentionally stepping on and attempting to damage Joel Embiid’s mask during the Sixers’ Game 3 win in Miami (see story).

With 7:51 remaining in the second quarter, the goggles portion of Embiid’s mask fell onto the court. Winslow stepped on the goggles with his left foot before picking them up and trying to break them with his hands.

“He kept throwing it on the ground, so I don’t know if he didn’t like it or what,” Winslow said. “But I was talking to JoJo, we were smack talking, trash talking, going back and forth. No love lost.”

The incident definitely didn’t stop Embiid in his postseason debut. The big man returned from orbital surgery to put up 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the Sixers’ 128-108 victory.

“Justise stepped on it and tried to break it with his hands,” Embiid said. “But little do they know is that I have about 50 of them. So it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of the series. 

“I’m going to be a nightmare for them, too.”