The Toronto Raptors have started the year off at 3-2 despite a very challenging schedule, with one of those wins coming against hated rivals in Doc Rivers and the Philadelphia 76ers. Even Joel Embiid and James Harden weren’t enough to keep Toronto in check.
The mercurial Pascal Siakam and the Raptors won 119-109 in a game where they basically led the entire way, all of the starters put forth solid efforts, and the 76ers struggled to get anything going outside of Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Rivers’ team is now 1-4 despite all of the preseason hype they accrued.
The Raptors, who came into the season regarded by basically everyone as a below-average offensive team, responded by coming out firing and sniping Philly to death from 3-point range. Rivers was quick to credit Nick Nurse and the Toronto staff, but he also got in a little jab at their scheme.
Rivers said that the main reason the Raptors are such a difficult team to stop is their defense. No issues there. However, Rivers raised some eyebrows by saying that if Philly gets the Raptors into their half-court offense, the 76ers should “feel pretty good about your chances to stop them.”
I’m sorry, Doc. How many points and wide=open 3s did you give up?
Doc Rivers bashing the Toronto Raptors’ offense is laughable.
The Raptors’ half-court sets have been downright atrocious at times this year, and no one would challenge that. However, the immediate aftermath of a game in which Toronto beat the stuffing out of Rivers’ lackluster defense is not the time to critique the Raptors’ offense.
The Raptors put up 119 points, their highest total of the season, making 46 shots from the field. Toronto was 16-37 from 3-point range, buoyed by four straight Siakam makes in the first quarter, and six players (including all five starters once again) hit double figures. That offense was working like a charm in this contest.
When paired with one of the worst transition defenses in the league, if not the outright worst, the collective effort put on display by the league’s 24th-ranked defense was absolutely putrid. In no world should a team with this much star power be 1-4, nor should names like Chris Boucher have cooked them so thoroughly.
The Raptors were stonewalled in the postseason by Philadelphia last year, as the dominance of Embiid was just too much for this team to overcome. The Sixers look more vulnerable defensively this year, so much so that even a half-court offense Rivers has no respect for can beat them up without all of their best names healthy.