Today we saw two blowouts from two two-seeds. No one expected Toronto to win after their Game three loss and no one expected Denver to take this series. I think it’s time to think again…
Toronto Raptors (3-2) v Philadelphia 76ers (2-3): 125-89
So Kawhi Leonard finally had a relatively quiet night, well for him anyway.
He only had 21 points, missed all his threes and had a solid 13 rebounds. So how did Toronto, a team that has relied on Kawhi for at least 33 or more points each game this series, score 125 points.
Well quite simply, the rest of the team finally showed up and they looked deadly.
Danny Green started hitting his threes (5-7 for 17 points), Kyle Lowry was efficient with 5-9 for 19 points (7-8 from the line) and Pascal Siakam was clearly over his injury with a solid 25 points.
Every starter had double digits and Serge Ibaka did too. Hell, even Fred VanVleet hit some shots. This was their night.
For the first time this series, Kawhi Leonard could have a rest, because when you’re up thirty Kawhi not?
The Raptors were flowing, they were full of energy behind their Most Improved Player: SIakam, and they dismantled the 76ers.
The 76ers did not play well. Full Stop.
The game started with Ben Simmons having two turnovers in the first two plays. He had five for the night (Embiid had 8). The tone was clearly set.
JJ Redick hit one shot, James Ennis III hit none. Jimmy Butler was the only player (once again) to have any impact with 22 points but shot inefficiently. They couldn’t catch the ball, let alone get shots to fall. Embiid was stopped by Gasol and held to only 13 points, and for some reason he keeps hoisting threes instead of attacking the paint. To be honest it looks like Philly, for the most part, has forgotten how to attack the paint. Tobias Harris is hosting up gross mid range jumpers, that are mostly clunking out and the biggest issue is the lack of Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons only took five shots. He may as well have been on the bench. Every play he just gets the ball out of his hands and passes it to someone else and disappears. He does the opposite of Giannis, who from half court will drive and lay it up or kick. If Simmons drives, he will ALWAYS kick. He needs to be more aggressive, even if that means a 6-20 game. He needs to start attacking more, drawing fouls and going back to that game 3 against Brooklyn where he went for 21 points.
If he doesn’t re-emerge, the Sixers are gone next game.
It’s make or break Game 6 at Philly and the Sixers had better show up!
Next game @ 76ers: Friday (10/5) at 10:00am.
Denver Nuggets (3-2) v Portland Trailblazers (2-3): 124 to 98
I have to say: I am both shocked and appalled.
I had Portland in six for this series at the start and I was being generous to Denver. But after today, I would be surprised if it makes it to seven.
I think we all forgot that the Nuggets were the two seed…In the West! They are this good.
The biggest surprise of this game was Paul Millsap, he is alive and can still play. Lest we forget that Millsap’s move to Denver in 2017 was a really big deal. I think we too often forget that, as Millsap was injured most of last year and did not have a good 2018-2019 season, but today he brought it.
He had 24 points, 2 blocks and shot over 50%. Portland had no answer.
With Jokic having yet another solid game with 25 points, 19 rebounds (6 of them offensive) and 6 assists and Jamal Murray having 18 points with 9 assists, Portland do not have the defensive fire power to stop this team.
Hell even Garry Harris had 16 points.
No game has made it more clear how much Portland miss Jusuf Nurkic than Game 5. Enes Kanter got destroyed (2-9 and miserable on defence), Aminu was 1-8 and couldn’t stop Millsap, Dame and CJ combined for 14-37 with 34 points which was fine but again, Garry Harris is too good at defence for Lillard it seems.
I struggle to see how Portland wins another game if the Nuggets continues their defensive intensity, Jokic just tears up the Blazers and they have a third scoring option in Millsap.
Blazers have their backs against the wall, but they like it that way, Dame will have a huge game 6 and this will go to seven, but it will be damn close.
Next Game @ Blazers: Friday (10/5) at 12:30pm