Ahead of a possible playoff game, the Toronto Raptors, beaten by OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet, beat the Philadelphia 76ers for the third time this season. Imman Adan and Giancarlo Navas discuss what stood out. Follow Yahoo Sports Canada for all your Raptors coverage.
IMMAN ADAN: I mean, the Sixers hit absolutely all 3s, which is sort of – OK, so let me pause and let me step back. Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby were therefore missing in this match. So you thought the Raptors wouldn’t really be able to keep pace with the Sixers’ offense, to say the least – stupid because the Raptors have the best 3-point shooter ever, maybe, at Precious Achiuwa.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Oh sure, yeah. Naturally.
IMMAN ADAN: But that kind of – it looked like the Raptors probably weren’t going to be able to keep up without OG and without Fred VanVleet there. And on the other hand, the Sixers didn’t have Matisse Thybulle, who isn’t eligible to play in Canada, which more than likely means he’s unvaccinated.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: [? No ?] [? vaxx. ?]
IMMAN ADAN: To the right.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Toronto’s attack is therefore quite interesting. And so I have here, through Cleaning the Glass, in transition, they had a 128 offensive rating – for the game, they had a 128 offensive rating. And in transition, that was huge, right? Their transition stuff has been good all year. They were 1.37 points per possession – 137 offensive ratings in transition.
And that’s kind of what they do. With or without Fred, they have so many big wings that can bounce, push, and are physical. And they’ve got a lot of ground shots now, and a lot of guys that anyone can pick up, anyone can dive to the edge.
And Philadelphia… Imman is a slow team with no athletes.
IMMAN ADAN: It’s my thing. The Raptors are a great team in transition, you just mentioned that. It’s a great transition attack. And the Sixers are a slow, older team. They are one of the worst defenses in transition in this league. And you also take out a guy like Matisse Thybulle, who, like I said, I didn’t really know how the Raptors offense was going to really thrive now.
In the games the Raptors won, a big part of that was transition offense and the ability to stop and run the other way. But tonight… I don’t even know where I was going with this. Because I don’t want to lose the idea here… my brain is scrambled. How does William Lou do these post-games? How do you do these post-games?
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Barely.
IMMAN ADAN: So my thought– yeah, I feel like I need drinks here too, like post-game at [INAUDIBLE]. But my thought, really– it’s Ramadan. I can’t believe I said that.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Nobody heard that.
IMMAN ADAN: My thought keeps coming back to – so one of my ongoing things is, even though the Raptors are in transition, Precious Achiuwa, I feel like there’s an automatic turnover in transition. It is a bit what it is. Like, he’s just getting ahead of himself. I don’t know if he’s so excited or what it is, but it’s almost always a turnover.
But tonight he had a pull up 3 in transition, which I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to get past this game because we have so much to say to each other…
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Silky.
IMMAN ADAN: –and do not mention.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: I saw it, yeah. No, and he showed flashes of it in Miami. ‘Cause he’ll be going upstairs and– like, mid-transition. And then he will do a little pull between the legs. And you’re like, it looked good. It looks…it’s legit. It is not a coincidence.
It’s something this guy does to people in practice. And he just doesn’t – I guess it’s different against NBA players and NBA speed. But he has the touch. He’s got it.
And kind of like your take on transition, I think skilled big men in general, when they – young skilled big men want to do so many things in transition. They’re like, I could pass, I could shoot, I could run on the floor. And like, four of those five things I shouldn’t do, but I can do.
And I think young guys like that… Bam used to do that too. He would just be caught in the moment.
IMMAN ADAN: Oh, 100%. I think that’s exactly it. But we see him choosing his places. I mean, it wasn’t something I was totally prepared for. I’ve been on my Precious Achiuwa is a great 3 point shooter…
GIANCARLO NAVAS: We noticed.
IMMAN ADAN: I love Precious Achiuwa. But he can do it all, and sometimes he tries to do it all at once. And it doesn’t work.
But the Sixers are a particularly bad game for the Raptors. And I think we see why, forgetting the fact that Matisse Thybulle, who is their best perimeter defender, is going to be absent. And we saw what Pascal Siakam was able to do tonight to have no one there.
Also Gary Trent Jr., who Matisse would likely see most of his time, was just lighting up the Sixers. Like, he finished with 30 points. And I didn’t even… like, it was all money from him. But he didn’t feel like he was dominating the game. He just fell into it, it felt like, just because…
GIANCARLO NAVAS: I have a question for you. Why do you think Philadelphia is a bad match for them? Because I really like this game against Toronto.
IMMAN ADAN: Oh, no, no, this is a bad game for Philadelphia.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Ah, okay, okay, okay, fine. ‘Cause I was like, whoa, why, Imman, what are we talking about…
IMMAN ADAN: You know what? Initially, to start the year, if you gave me the Philadelphia 76ers, I would have been like, the Raptors just don’t have a big one. Like, they can’t really keep a guy like Joel Embiid. But they really showed with Nick Nurse’s plans– and there was a tweet that came out today, wish I could put it here.
But what the Raptors are doing to keep Joel from even having the ball – like, it’s crazy how low his usage rate is against a team like the Raptors. And you know what? We’re going to see nights where… especially without Matisse Thybulle, where you’re going to have other guys leaving. Part of having a guy like Matisse play for the Sixers means you have a guy you can help on the defensive end because he’s not much of a threat.
And we saw that they can’t really do that against Danny Green, who hit six 3s tonight. They can’t really do that against — obviously, you don’t want to do that against Tyrese Maxey. You don’t really want to do that against Tobias Harris too. So that’s a bit of a problem.
But I don’t even care at all because the Raptors get most of their offense in transition. The Sixers are such a slow team to come back to. And if you don’t have Matisse for most of your games, I just don’t know how you’re going to stop the Raptors.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: And they force a ton of turnovers. And Embiid had five tonight, which I think was the script on him last year. It’s like, okay, you face, swarm, collect, force him to set, go back.
A lot of teams haven’t been – Miami has done that a lot, and they haven’t been successful this year. And Toronto, they have so much more length. These passing lanes are hell with everything – there are just a lot of weapons.
And not that– I would never say they’re better off without Freddy because Freddy is a [? drop ?] killer, and we know how much I love Freddy. But without Freddy, you have a bit more height. You have a little more length. You have a few more arms.
And some of those passes get really tricky when that assist – you know, it’s one thing when the assist is Fred, another thing when the assist is Scottie or Gary Trent or whatever. And that puts them in transition. This lessens their offense. And that gets them into what they want to do.
IMMAN ADAN: Speaking of length, I just want to bump that up. Because I looked at the starting lineup, and I thought, what are the Raptors doing? They started Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr., Khem Birch, Scottie Barnes at that one and Precious Achiuwa there.
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Nicholas, Nicholas… Heat legend Khem Birch, by the way.
IMMAN ADAN: Oh, so many Heat legends about the Raptors…
GIANCARLO NAVAS: Heat up the Khem Birch legend to you, by the way. Three Heat legends on your team this year. It’s a lot of [? culture. ?]
IMMAN ADAN: [LAUGHS] I’ll take it. I’ll take it. So yeah, I’m really excited about the potential for a four-on-five game with the Sixers and Raptors, whether Matisse Thybulle can play or not. I just think it’s going to be a lot of fun.