The Toronto Raptors bounced back from their setback against the Milwaukee Bucks to record a 17-point blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. They have now improved to a 7-1 record, and are currently the second seed in the East. Here are five things we learned from the game:
Kawhi, Embiid are MVP candidates
Kawhi Leonard recorded his third 30-point game in six meetings, after he had been rested for the Milwaukee Bucks game and returned with a bang to inspire the Raptors to defeat the Sixers. Kawhi is still undefeated as a Raptors player, and they are 6-0 with Kawhi in the team. The former San Antonio Spurs man is averaging 27.3 points per game and has settled like a duck to water in Toronto. Cameroonian Joel Embiid is also a hot contender for the MVP award, tallying an average of 27 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in eight games so far. He’s been a force in the offensive and defensive stats, making him a unique contender for the MVP race early in the season. He recorded his fifth 30-point game in the loss against the Raptors.
Simmons needs to shore up defense, composure
On many occasions he was the primary defender on Leonard but he failed to contain him. Leonard kept making plays for himself and his teammates with ease, and this showed that Simmons needs to work on his defense in isolation duels. Simmons also recorded an unwanted tally of 11 turnovers on the night, including one crucial turnover in the fourth quarter when the Sixers were aiming to cut the Raptors’ lead—the ball was snatched by Leonard to feed Pascal Siakam, who scored at the rim.
Siakam huge asset for Raptors
Pascal Siakam is widely expected to be a major contributor for the Raptors this season and so far he has lived up to the hype. He scored 15 points against the Sixers, while recording 15 rebounds, two assists and three steals to rally the Raptors to yet another win. He was also impressive in the defeat of the Bucks as he tallied 22 points. The Cameroon player is currently averaging 10.9 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 59.4 percent from the field. He’s on course to eclipse his previous stats last season.
Raptors hot favorites to be top seed
Led by an MVP candidate, with an unbeaten home record (6-0) and having beaten the Boston Celtics already, the Raptors are showing early signs of being top dogs in the Eastern Conference. They have an incredibly talented roster with the likes of Kyle Lowry (an All-Star), Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Danny Green, Siakam and OG Anunoby ready to back up Leonard every night. If they maintain their hot start, it would be difficult for any other team in the East to dominate them.
Sixers need to improve road form
The 76ers have been disappointing on the road so far this season. They are currently 0-4 on their travels with defeats by the Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and Raptors. The manner in which they’ve lost those games is a concern—by 15 or more points against the Celtics, Bucks and Raptors. The teams they’ve failed to beat are the current pacesetters in the East and that needs to be corrected if they are to challenge for a place among the conference’s top-ranked teams.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, WNBA, their clubs or Kwesé Sports.