Sixers crush frustrated, flailing Raptors as everyone but Kawhi Leonard disappears

Sixers crush frustrated, flailing Raptors as everyone but Kawhi Leonard disappears

It's not a specific time on the clock, but the privilege of having access to one of the best playoff performers in National Basketball Association history runs out the moment the Raptors season ends.

During the regular season, the same group of Raptors thrived when Leonard was being load managed. Embiid, with his huge moves and showy celebrations would enthrall the crowd until he finally left the game with four minutes left.

As well as the Toronto Raptors had been playing since their second game of the playoffs, you could feel as though a letdown was coming. He was probably the second best player on the floor in Game 3, behind Joel Embiid. It's how they lost. "They played really desperate and super hard and they got a victory". It was reminiscent of LeBron James spinning the ball in Serge Ibaka's face or taking a break from dismantling the Raptors to pretend and take a swig of beer on the baseline. "We got thoroughly out-played and it's been a while, it's been a while since you've seen this team play this way". They had punked the Raptors and asserted their dominance in the series.

Of course, the biggest difference between this Raptors team and those Raptors teams is Leonard, and that was nearly enough. Shooting 25 per cent on wide-open shots from beyond the arc for three quarters is how you end up scoring 89 points in a game.

The Raptors weren't totally innocent themselves, either. They haven't all series.

The Raptors found another gear in the third quarter. He didn't miss a shot in the frame, going a flawless 6-for-6.

Kawhi Leonard needs some help and it has to be more than just Pascal Siakam. What could go wrong?

In 28 minutes of play, the two-time All-Star scored 33 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the field.

"I guess not maybe surprising but pretty dang good tonight", Nurse said. You could understand the temptation to give Leonard a quick breather there. The Raptors simply didn't have any adjustments in the tank for anything Philly was doing on Thursday, and they paid the price with going down 2-1 in the series.

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They are playing with the best player majority will ever get a chance to play with and with a real chance to go farther than majority have ever been.

With Leonard on the bench, Toronto was outscored 24-11.

Leonard scored a team-high 33 points in the game, but he didn't get much help from Kyle Lowry, who shot 2/10 and missed all of his threes. Jamal Murray registered 23 points and eight assists, as well.

He hit a three over Marc Gasol and then did a shimmy before running back down the court. And when the Raptors struggle to crack 100 points and only record 15 assists as a team, that's a reflection of their point guard. He scored just seven points in Game 3.

'We've got a lot more to give and do something special, ' Embiid said.

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.

Leonard is a matchup nightmare for most opponents because in addition to being 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan - the combination of which allows him to shoot over the top of most wing defenders - he has the strength to bulldoze his way to the basket.

"Yeah, I think we got outplayed in just about every area we could get outplayed in", Nurse said. "I'm always told that if I don't smile during the game that I'm either having a bad game or I'm not into it". We got to take care of business.

'When I have fun, my game just changes, ' Embiid said.