By Dylan MacKinnon
Heading into the playoffs, the Raptors were the popular upset pick to beat the Sixers in the first round. After two games, no team has had an easier time than the Sixers so far. They won both games by double digits. In the first game, they had such a big lead they were able to rest their starters at the end. Pretty much everything went their way in games 1 and 2. And now, the Sixers look to keep the good times rolling as they travel to Toronto for game 3 tonight in Toronto.
Game one it was all Tyrese Maxey. The young guard scored 38, coming just one shy of his career-high. In-game 2, Joel Embiid carried the Sixers with 31. Tobias scored 20 in both games, and Harden has played the role of playmaker. As a team, they have just 17 turnovers through two games. They even won the Embiid bench minutes. Paul Reed was no Super Star filling in for Embiid in the 10 minutes he gets some rest. But every time he came onto the floor he either helped hold the lead or even grew it. It is hard to find anything to nitpick about the Sixers’ first two games.
Both Teams Short-Handed
But now they head into hostile territory and do so without Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle has not necessarily been a key piece in the Sixers’ first two wins, but his absence will still be felt. With him unable to travel to Canada due to being unvaccinated, it will likely be Furkan Korkmaz in his stead.
Scottie Barnes remains out after spraining his ankle in game one. He did not play game 2 either. Gary Trent Jr (illness) is expected to play. Trent Jr. started game 2, but struggled to shoot, got into foul trouble, and was unable to finish the game. Thad Young sprained his thumb in game 1, and played no minutes in game 2, but is not currently on the injury report.
The narrative throughout the game will surely be how many fouls are called. Nick Nurse was not shy before or after either game about complaining about the way the games have been called. He claims that it has been lopsided in the Sixers’ favor. Granted he has guys 4 to 6 inches shorter than Embiid trying to guard him. But for Nurse that isn’t enough of a factor to explain why his team is fouling so much more than the Sixers are. Embiid for his part did nothing to diffuse the tension about the fouls after the game, in this amusing exchange.
Joel Embiid explains what he told Nick Nurse at the end of Game 2 👀😅 pic.twitter.com/tUToBrJdlx— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 19, 2022
An interesting wrinkle to tonight’s game is that crew chief Marc Davis ranked at the bottom of the league this season in fouls called. In last year’s playoffs his crew called the second least fouls. But less fouls may not necessarily benefit the Raptors, with the Sixers having the far superior size.
The Sixers are two-point road favorites. Our coverage begins at 7:50 with Devon Givens and The Pregame Show. Then the game tips at 8 with Tom McGinnis on the call. If the Sixers win tonight they will have a chance to finish the series in game 4 on Saturday at 2 pm. Join us as the Sixers seek to keep the good times rolling, and take a 3-0 lead over the Raptors.