Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Raptors Game 5
Instant takeaways after Game 5.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
With a chance to end their first round series and get ready for the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Sixers returned home tonight to face a Fred VanVleet-less Toronto Raptors team. Here’s what stood out to me tonight:
Con: Sixers offense goes cold
The Raptors made a strong opening push tonight, and the Sixers simply never punched back. They played from behind for nearly the entire game, and because of their brutal offensive showing, they never even came close to coming back.
There were poor individual showings (I’ll get to those next), but as a whole, this team was just bad. They looked awful, and they looked rattled. And despite a poor shooting night from the Raptors, the Sixers never stood a chance tonight.
Now, let’s get to two of the biggest culprits here:
Con: Can Matisse Thybulle play in this series?
I think the answer might be no.
Thybulle missed the last two games of this series, as he has chosen to be ineligible for games played in Toronto by not becoming fully-vaccinated. The Sixers simply gave more of his minutes to Danny Green and Shake Milton, among others, and their bench certainly did not look worse for it.
Tonight, though, Thybulle was absolutely disastrous on offense. He’s been brutal on that end on plenty of occasions in his career, but tonight might have been the pinnacle of those struggles.
In his first stint on the floor, Thybulle bricked wide open look after wide open look, to the point that he was very obviously scared to shoot the ball in a way we have not seen from a player since You Know Who, You Know When. In his second stint, he was once again petrified of shooting, not even looking at the basket when the ball was in his hands. He then blew a layup and was immediately pulled, to a large cheer from an angry crowd.
With VanVleet out, there was really no use for Thybulle, whose main responsibility is defending opposing guards. Thybulle may be a viable playoff rotation piece against some teams. I’m just not sure the Raptors are one of those teams.
Con: [Gestures towards James Harden]
Let’s just be honest: Harden was flat-out disastrous tonight. In a game when the Sixers needed him to come through, more than they ever have before, he came up way short.
We can leave the long-term Harden discussion for another time. The fact of the matter is that right now, Harden doesn’t even look like he is close to being a superstar, or even a star for that matter.
He’s had his moments in a Sixers uniform, but I don’t know how you can say anything other than that he has been a massive disappointment in these playoffs.
There is still time to salvage this poor play and turn things around, but why exactly should we expect that right now? The playoffs only get harder as time passes, and he has yet to provide a reason to expect he will improve. Things need to change, and they need to change quickly.