Raptors' defence invisible in Game 6 vs. 76ers

The Toronto Raptors could not contain James Harden, Joel Embiid or the 76ers' 3-point shooters in Game 6 in what was likely their worst defensive performance of the series.

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: And I think it comes back to the maturity and the youth of this team, where they get caught up a little bit in the calls. They start playing as aggressive on D because they're scared of getting that third foul, I think. For OG, he got two quick ones. And we saw a little bit more of a timid OG Anunoby on the defensive end, which is not something that you would say.

He's had a fantastic series against Harden, you know, did a fantastic job on him all series long. And today you saw a little bit more of, like, a timid precious and a timid OG on the defensive end. And it felt very unfamiliar to what we saw, at least what worked for the Raptors in the two games that they were able to win there.

And it's unfortunate. But I think I'm-- like, I'm fine with this game. I've made my peace with this game a little bit. Because in those first two games, it very much felt like the Raptors were getting out classed without playing Raptors-style basketball, right? They were making their threes, but they weren't defending at all. And it felt like they were getting--

SAVANNA HAMILTON: [INAUDIBLE]

IMMAN ADAN: Initially they were in games 1 and 2. After that, they had-- I don't think they've made a three for what feels like forever. Scottie had a nice one today. But at least in, like, the first two games, I was like, their half-court offense is really good. And their defense is abysmal.

And then the two wins happen. And I'm like, oh, their defense is phenomenal. I actually have the numbers here. In wins, the Raptors have a defensive rating of 98.4%. That is stellar. That is stellar. They held the Sixers to 88 points, and the Sixers had 16 free throws. In losses-- in losses, their defensive rating is 130.5.

SAVANNA HAMILTON: Yikes. Yikes.

IMMAN ADAN: Right? And that is the difference. Like, it's wild to me that you can have one team that can play defense that locked down, and then the same team be one of the worst defenses of all time, essentially, with a 130 defensive rating there.

SAVANNA HAMILTON: Yeah.

IMMAN ADAN: What do you think? Do you agree with me in that, like, some of the reffing-- I think not just, like, oh, the referees or controlling this game. But you see it get in the player's head at, the very least a little bit, where they start to be more timid on the defensive end. They're not trying to close out as hard because they don't want to get called for anything. Do you think that may be played a part in it, or do you think there's something else that really points to the lack of defense in the losses, especially?

SAVANNA HAMILTON: I mean, do you want to talk about the series as a whole or this game tonight?

IMMAN ADAN: I guess it's a little bit-- it's a little different in both of them. We can touch on tonight and maybe look at the series as a whole.

SAVANNA HAMILTON: OK. OK. Yeah, so tonight's game, definitely lack of defense. Even though I was in the mosh pit, and the mosh pit was definitely a more defensive presence than what was on the court there at one point, it was definitely, like, when I did come back and watch the rest of the second half, like, it was just, like, recovery, recovery, recovery, playing from behind. They're always a step too slow.

It seemed like the-- seems like there's a better transition on the 76ers end, that they were getting anything they wanted at the rim as well. And so when I think about, you know, just what happened tonight and, like, breaking this game down, you know, it was definitely a defensive collapse. And I think, yes, sure, the refs had something to do with it.

The refs have been not the greatest. They're never great with the Raptors. So it's almost like you got to factor that in. And I get it. Like, it's so easy to point fingers to them. But it's also kind of, like, what you expect in the playoffs. And so with that in mind, like, you have to understand them like that's just part of the game at this point. So--

IMMAN ADAN: You have to think that, for sure.

SAVANNA HAMILTON: Yeah, exactly. And not to mention, the 76ers were complaining when the Raptors whined about the refs too. So [INAUDIBLE]. I know, right? Does Joel get superstar calls? Absolutely. Was something called-- I believe OG had the ball at one point, one possession in the second quarter. And it wasn't a-- they didn't call a travel, and they didn't call a foul when he slid on the ground just magically with the ball.

And then on the other side, on the other end, I believe Joel Embiid went up for, like, an awkward shot. He fell down. And, oh, foul on the Raptors, even though it was a pretty clean, like, hands-up play or possession for-- defensively for the Raptors. So yeah, does the refs-- does the calls get into this team's head? Yeah.

A lot of the guys are, like, 23, 24. Like, this team is very, very young. And when you have bad refs, like, stuff like that does get to them. Chippiness on the court does get to them. Like, all the things that are said to them in between-- like, even Doc Rivers storming the floor and the Gary Trent, Jr. ended up hitting those technical free throws. Like, that was a great, like, little momentum shift for the Raptors.

But they didn't capitalize on it, really. They just kind of like, OK, well, yay. We got-- we got maybe one call in our favor. But you can't cry yourself a river. Like, you still got the job done in the last game without Fred VanVleet. And I think that's something that, you know, needs to be talked about, is the fact that Fred VanVleet was missed today.

I think a lot of people were talking about how Fred was not missed as much in that last game, and maybe there's better matchups presented because of that. You know, he is a shorter guard. He's actually, like, around my height. And I'm like 5' 11.5", is almost 6 foot. And, like-- and so, like, it was hard for him to match up.

And Tyrese Maxey-- yeah, Maxey would have been the best matchup for him. But he was just too slow earlier in the series to keep up with Maxey. But that being said, you can't replace his leadership quality and him being a floor general and what that brings to this team in times like tonight, right? He could have-- I felt like there were times that they could have called a timeout maybe earlier or settled the guys down.

But there's only so much even then, like, Nick Nurse can say in a team huddle. Like, what are you going to say? Huddle up and be like, hey, guys, relax? And then they go back out there and play frantically. I thought that Scottie Barnes, like-- we all love Scottie Barnes. I know. We all love him.

But, like, there's definitely times when Scottie Barnes, like, he played frantically on defense. He was jumping at everything, and he was biting everything. And, like, no, you know how to play better defense than this. And so I think it was just a panic defense that we saw, not intentionally, like they didn't want to play. They tried their hardest. They really did. You saw that.

It was just a matter of the emotions getting caught up in their head. They're not playing to their defensive scheme and playing frantically. And then 76ers were capitalizing on it because, as you said, all four of their guys were, like, on point tonight. And, you know, I'm sure they are. They came into this game being like-- 76ers, they knew that if they lost this game, they would lose the seventh game.

IMMAN ADAN: Oh, absolutely.

SAVANNA HAMILTON: I feel like they played tonight like this was game 7 for them. And the Raptors played like this was game 6. That's what happened.

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