Kawhi Leonard's body language after Game 3 loss sparks concern

Saturday, 04 May, 2019

The 76ers, beaten in the Eastern Conference second-round series opener, thwarted the Raptors' second-half comeback bid, notching their first win in Toronto since November 2012 to head home for game three on Thursday all square. Toronto came on in the third and their big guns weren't bad (Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points, Pascal Siakam added 21 and Kyle Lowry had 20), but the Raps didn't get enough from their bench and they couldn't hit outside shots when they needed them down the stretch to come back.

"He played great", said the 2014 NBA Finals MVP. Toronto trailed 61-60 with 2:50 left in the quarter but Embiid made four free throws before the quarter ended and the 76ers took a 69-63 lead to the fourth. He was probably the second best player on the floor in Game 3, behind Joel Embiid.

Though the signing of Monroe late in the season for the Sixers was widely scoffed at around the league, Moose has been providing Philadelphia with solid minutes so far in the postseason, and he has played for the Raptors, Bucks and Celtics over the course of the past two seasons - so he can also provide counter-intelligence on Philly's foes as the playoffs continue.

While all the talk in Philly has been about how this series is the biggest the city's team has played in years, Sixers coach Brett Brown predicted his players wouldn't be affected by the hype.

Game 4 goes Sunday afternoon, which gives the Raptors two full days of practice to figure something out.

Hall of Famer Allen Iverson and rapper Meek Mill engaged in a lengthy embrace from the courtside seats and the Sixers are two wins away from their Eastern Conference final appearance since 2001. A unit mostly cobbled together by general manager Elton Brand during the season has outscored Toronto's bench 73-30 in the series.

Butler's playoff performance has been what the 76ers expected when they acquired him from Minnesota in November to help them make a deep playoff run. But we got a lot more to give. The final still found the total score almost 20-points clear of exceeding the game's 222 over-under.

"I was just trying to make it hard", Simmons said after Game 2.

"I do wish I chose different words".

Toronto lost six of its first eight shots, just like they had done in the first quarter of the game. "We're not giving him any help".

Lowry was incensed and made his case through the next possession, after Norman Powell had connected on a 3-pointer on the other end for the Raptors, but no call was made.

The Raptors went cold to start the fourth, missing all but one of their first seven shots, and when Ben Simmons strolled through Toronto's defence for an easy layup with 8:43, it was back to an 11-point deficit.

Perhaps there is an alternative timeline in the world where the Toronto Raptors didn't fire Dwane Casey.

The Sixers built a 10-point lead, punctuating it with crowd-thrilling moments like Simmons connecting on an alley-oop jam with Jimmy Butler or a JJ Redick three-ball. "I mean if we don't do that, the prettiest things we chose to do offensively aren't going to matter much". Embiid buried a three and followed with a sweet spin move on Gasol the next time down that got the Sixers rolling.

Not in Game 3.

'I think we got outplayed in just about every area we can get outplayed, ' Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. Embiid scored 18 points in the half and pushed the Sixers to a 64-53 lead at the break.