Raptors regroup after worst game of playoffs in loss to Sixers

The Toronto Raptors regrouped Tuesday after an off-night in Game 2 blunted the momentum from a dominant opening performance in their second-round series against Philadelphia.

There was plenty to pick apart after a woeful first half led to a 94-89 loss to the 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on Monday night.

Philadelphia made matchup adjustments after Toronto’s 108-95 victory in Game 1 and it seemed to catch the Raptors off guard. Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard had another big night but the Raptors’ bench struggled, the team’s three-point shooting was poor and the 76ers had a 52-36 edge on rebounds.

“We thrive and have our best offence when we’re running and don’t give them a chance to match up,” said Toronto swingman Danny Green. “We’ve got to find a way to get stops to do that.”

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam had a tougher time in Game 2 against Sixers big man Joel Embiid while Ben Simmons did his best to stifle Leonard, who led the Raptors with 35 points but was held to 3-for-10 from distance. Siakam finished with 21 points on 9-for-25 shooting and Kyle Lowry added 20 points.

Toronto’s bench players were held to just five points.

Serge Ibaka scored two points over 13 minutes and Norm Powell made one three-pointer over his 15 minutes of play. Fred VanVleet was solid at the defensive end but held scoreless over 18 minutes and Jodie Meeks didn’t score during his brief appearance.

“For me it was trying to stick to our guns a little bit,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after a team workout at its practice facility. “Our rotations felt really good for five straight games. Like really, really good, not just OK. Like really, really good.”

Green, meanwhile, had just three points and missed a three-point attempt with 10 seconds left that could have tied the game.

WATCH | Butler, 76ers beat Raptors to even series:

Philadelphia defeats Toronto 94-89, Jimmy Butler 30 points and 11 rebounds. 2:11

“Just like any competitor, I wish I’d get that shot back,” he said. “I know that if I’d get that shot back 10 times, I think I’d make at least eight of them.”

The 76ers played with a sense of desperation, not wanting to return home in an 0-2 hole. Philadelphia held Toronto to 17 points in the first quarter and kept the Raptors off balance throughout the game with a strong defensive effort.

“We looked at film and saw how they were doing it,” said Raptors centre Marc Gasol. “We talked about ways to go at it and keeping our spacing and our passing within our system. I’m pretty confident.”

The Raptors were set to travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday ahead of Game 3 at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

“I thought the intensity was there,” Gasol said of Game 2. “We just got a little stagnant offensively and that’s it.”

Jimmy Butler had a strong all-around game for Philadelphia with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Every time the Raptors tried to make a move, it seemed Butler, Embiid or James Ennis would come up with a big shot.

“We’re going to probably look at many different things and try to attack them on every front,” Green said. “But the biggest key for us is to do what we do — our identity — and that’s play fast-paced basketball.”

It’s possible that Jeremy Lin or Patrick McCaw may come off the bench in Game 3 over Meeks. Regardless of who’s on the floor, the Raptors will need to improve their overall percentages and get more aggressive on the boards.

“We can execute better,” Nurse said. “We can space better. We can pass it out with a little bit more zip on it to get those shots a little bit cleaner maybe. But I think [the Sixers] were playing really hard and really good defence. I give them a lot of credit.”

Game 4 goes in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. The best-of-seven series returns to Toronto on May 7.

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