Philadelphia 76ers still lead the series with a 3-2 tally. They are now headed back north.
The Raptors have won two straight in the series and jumped all over injured Sixers center Joel Embiid and ineffective James Harden to make Thursday night’s game a necessity.
Embiid had 20 points and 11 rebounds playing with a thumb injury. Harden scored 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, who led Boston to the 2008 championship, is the only coach in NBA history to blow three 3-1 series leads.
The Magic lost to Detroit in the 2003 Eastern Conference first round; the 2015 Clippers blew the series to Houston in the Western Conference semifinals; and in 2020, the Clippers lost to Denver in the West semifinals.
Maybe it sparked something for the Raptors. They opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run to take control all while the Sixers missed their first nine shots. The Sixers didn’t score until 6:51 was left in the half. Scottie Barnes scored eight points in the quarter and the Raptors took a 54-41 lead at the break.
The 76ers were booed off the court, their play a bleak reminder of some recent postseason flameouts.
Harden played the same night the All-Star he was traded for, Ben Simmons, was inactive for Brooklyn. Harden was barely more visible and missed 6 of 8 shots through three quarters, scoring nine points.
Embiid continued to play with a ligament tear in his right thumb. He looked gassed at times in the third quarter as the Raptors kept attacking the MVP finalist for tough buckets, notably Achiuwa’s driving layup that made it 73-60.