As the ball bounced around the rim and, somehow, fell in, Philadelphia fans can’t help but reminisce to this past January when the Eagles faced the Chicago Bears and the “double doink” pushed us farther into the playoffs unlike this case where we were “doinked” out of the playoffs. Was this karma or coincidence? All we do know is that it stung like hell.
The Sixers stuck to the Raptors the entire game despite committing 17 turnovers(a reoccurring weakness for the Sixers) and getting out-rebounded 52-47(a category the Sixers usually led in throughout this series)
However, ultimately Kawhi Leonard, one of the best performers in these playoffs and top five talent in the league, put the Raptors over the top. He finished the game with 41 points on 16 of 39 shooting as he was inefficient in the first half thanks to a successful defensive gameplan implemented by Brett Brown(we are a pro-Brett Brown blog). After foul trouble became an issue for Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, Kawhi simply went off.
With the help of 17 points from Serge Ibaka, who struggled in the previous games in the series, and an 11 point double double by Pascal Siakam, the Raptors had a strong grip on the game heading into the final minute.
After the Raptors went up 89-86 with about a minute remaining, Embiid hit two clutch free throws to bring his points total to a Sixer-leading twenty one cutting the lead to 89-88 with twelve seconds left. Kawhi was then fouled on the next possession but only made one of two, allowing Jimmy Butler, who finished with 16, to dribble the length of the court and score the game-tying layup with four seconds remaining.
Hope for Sixers fans quickly diminished as Kawhi Leonard caught the ball outside the arc, ran to the left corner and shot a fadeaway two that, after a lot of rattling around the rim, dropped to take the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Embiid was seen crying after the game, a perfect representation of the mood of Philadelphia after that infamous shot rattled in. After such a devastating loss, the Sixers look to a offseason that is filled with a lot of questions. Do we give Butler the max? Do we trade Ben Simmons?
Elton Brand has a lot on his agenda and we at JTP will be interested to see how this newly instated GM will handle his first NBA offseason.
Trust the Process.