The Philadelphia 76ers have now beaten Toronto twice already this season. Once after a crushing Raptors loss and now, following a big win. The common denominator: one Joel Embiid.
On Thursday in the City of Brotherly Love, the Raptors played better than in the prior meeting, but still had no answer for reigning NBA MVP Embiid, who scored 28 points in the 114-99 win.
The Raptors actually pulled even in the third quarter after playing the Sixers tight earlier in the game, but could not close. A 15-2 Philadelphia run to end the third all but wrapped things up as the Raptors fell to 2-4.
Scottie Barnes was brilliant early, with 12 first quarter points, and finished with 24, along with eight rebounds and eight assists, but Pascal Siakam had a quiet 10 points and the bench did not perform well, other than Chris Boucher. Dennis Schroder added another 10 assists for the Raptors, along with 13 points.
Barnes scored or assisted on the first 15 Raptors points.
The Raptors had stunned the Milwaukee Bucks in Toronto 130-111 a night earlier, but got run over by Embiid, who made 12 free throws, one fewer than all of the Raptors combined, Tyrese Maxey (who had 18 points) and Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre, who each had 23.
In this second reunion with former head coach Nick Nurse, the Raptors again struggled to keep Embiid off the free throw line. And though they did a better job on Maxey this time around, got burned by the supporting cast.
Philadelphia came in having only played three times, compared to five already for Toronto. The Sixers had oddly been off since beating Portland on Sunday, and the fresh legs showed at times. The Sixers ended the second quarter on a 16-6 run to lead 58-49.
Embiid came in averaging 31 points a game, Tyrese Maxey 30.3 and the team had the third-best offence in the early days of the season.
It was Philadelphia’s first game since trading James Harden and P.J. Tucker to the Los Angeles Clippers for Robert Covington, KJ Martin, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris and draft picks. All but Batum were available Thursday for Philadelphia, but only Covington and Martin played, one minute each late.
Toronto was again without Precious Achiuwa, while Otto Porter Jr. was held out of the back-to-back as he manages his return to play after making his season debut on Wednesday.
This was the first of four straight on the road for the Raptors, who will face Victor Wembanyama and San Antonio on Sunday, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday and the stacked Boston Celtics next Saturday to finish the tough trip.