NBA playoffs

Sixers roll over shorthanded Raptors for commanding 2-0 series lead

Sixers roll over shorthanded Raptors for commanding 2-0 series lead

STREAKING. James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers continue their strong start in the NBA playoffs

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports-Reuters

Joel Embiid, James Harden and the rest of the healthy Sixers rotation pounce on the undermanned Raptors for a commanding NBA first round playoff series lead

Joel Embiid had 31 points and 11 rebounds to lift the host Philadelphia 76ers past the Toronto Raptors, 112-97, to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference opening round playoff series on Monday, April 18 (Tuesday, April 19, Manila time).

Tyrese Maxey added 23 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, Tobias Harris contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds, and James Harden chipped in 14 points, 6 boards and 6 dimes as the Sixers defended their home court with a pair of wins. Danny Green also scored 11.

It was the 100th career playoff win for head coach Doc Rivers. Game 3 will be played Wednesday, April 20 (Thursday, April 21) in Toronto.

OG Anunoby led the Raptors with 26 points, Fred VanVleet added 20, and Pascal Siakam had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Boucher also scored 17.

The Raptors played without top rookie Scottie Barnes, who suffered an ankle injury in Game 1 when Embiid landed on him.

Toronto’s Gary Trent Jr. played 10 minutes and didn’t return due to a non-COVID illness. He was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting.

The Sixers went ahead 59-46 when Harden drove to the basket and scored with 5:09 left in the second quarter.

Precious Achiuwa responded with a jumper on Toronto’s ensuing possession.

Philadelphia then surged to a 67-52 lead heading into the locker room thanks in large part to Embiid’s 19 points. All 19 came in the first quarter.

VanVleet paced the Raptors with 17, though he shot 6-of-18 overall.

The Sixers came out aggressive on both ends of the court to begin the third and opened a 19-point advantage after dunks by Embiid and Harris. Philadelphia held a 95-71 lead at the end of the third.

Toronto’s frustration became evident when Siakam was whistled for a technical foul with 10:19 remaining in the fourth.

The Raptors responded and soon closed within 97-84 after Anunoby hit a trey with 7:31 to go. Following an empty Sixers possession, Toronto came back with a tough layup by Khem Birch.

Maxey halted the 20-2 run with a 3-pointer and a 100-86 lead, and the Sixers cruised to the win from there. –