Imman Adan and Asad Alvi discuss Toronto’s rebounding woes, injury issues, and Scottie Barnes as the Raptors lost Game 1 of their best-of-seven series to the 76ers.
IMMAN ADAN: Even with the good that the offense was, there still was some bad and some ugly in it. And there was nothing that the Raptors did today that was completely good. And that's what happens when you lose by 20 points in game one of the playoffs. But I'm with you that that's probably where a lot of the bright spots are.
The Raptors don't normally shoot this well. I mean, any time you, if I told you, prior to us recording this or prior to the game happening, that the Raptors would shoot near 50% from the floor, 40% from deep, you probably would walk away thinking that was a win. So let's get into the reasons why that wasn't. And that's the bad here, which was the defense. What are your thoughts on what you saw from the Raptors defensively tonight?
ASAD ALVI: Well, in the first half, they just weren't locking down on defense at all. They weren't really making it hard for Joel Embiid. The doubles weren't really coming on time. And I think the biggest problem for the Raptors were they gave up-- let me get this number correctly for you. Philadelphia had 10 offensive rebounds, which is unacceptable, right?
Philly's a very bad offensive rebounding team. And Philly attacked the glass. And the Raptors just let them. You're boxing out Joel Embiid down low. I get it. Again, these weren't-- Joel Embiid had 4 offensive rebounds, but 6 are coming from the other team. I don't know how many of those are in the first half, to be honest.
IMMAN ADAN: Right.
ASAD ALVI: But again, it wasn't really Joel Embiid killing them on the glass as much as it was--
IMMAN ADAN: It doesn't even have to be the first half.
ASAD ALVI: Tobias Harris is getting offensive rebounds. James Harden's getting offensive rebounds. Danny Green's getting offensive rebounds. That's on your other guys to lock up. And the core of the Raptors defense is, all right, get the rebound, and then push. Whoever gets it can push, right?
So you saw, whether it was Pascal or Precious or whoever, locking up Embiid down low. And then the guards aren't coming down to rebound. And that's also-- I'm going to look at Gary Trent Jr. I understand that he's not a big rebounding guard. But you've got to box out some of these guards that you're guarding, as once the shot goes up, you can't be letting these longer rebounds just fall into people's laps.
IMMAN ADAN: And sometimes it wasn't even a longer rebound. There was one in the third quarter there where Harden just missed a floater, I think it was. And absolutely no one boxed him out. He grabbed the board there and then kicked it out to Maxey, who was in the corner, for 3.
And there you go. Your defense is scrambling. Maxey's hot. He's going to hit that shot.
ASAD ALVI: And specifically on that play, Harden gets the rebound. You have two down there. And then a third help defender comes down. It's like, but, guys, what are you doing? You have Harden trapped on the baseline. You don't need to bring any more help now. And that's where the help comes off the man in the corner.
And I don't know whether it was Chris Boucher or OG. I forget who was in that set. But it was Pascal, someone, and a third. And the man comes off the corner. And Tyrese Maxey is an open 3, who's been lights out all game. So what's kind of happening focus-wise, right?
IMMAN ADAN: And I'm with you on that entirely. And just to sort of accentuate your point here or add an emphasis to it, the Philadelphia 76ers are the worst offensive rebounding team. They have the lowest offensive rebounding rate in the entire league. The Raptors, meanwhile, have the second-best, only behind Memphis.
This is not a battle that you would expect the Raptors to lose. And quite frankly, the Sixers are a better offense than the Raptors. They have more offensive talent than the Raptors. So if you're losing a possession battle to a team that, for one, is going to live at the line way more than you do-- they got, what, 10 more free throws than the Raptors this game? And that's not something that is unexpected.
What's unexpected is the rebounding. And so that was really disheartening to see there. I'm completely with you on that.
Now it's time for the ugly. Can I start by saying these injuries? I was nervous coming into this game because everyone kept talking about the Raptors' injury report being completely clear and clean and how surprising and weird that was. And I was like, oh, this is giving me bad vibes. We're in for our drinks. And then we, of course, Embiid just smacking every single Raptor.
ASAD ALVI: Which is ridiculous. And Nick talked about this in his post-game presser too. And I want to-- here's the thing. I know when it comes to bigs-- and this is while there was Shaq, while there was any other big. The one thing that, as a big, you need to do is you have to be careful with your arms, because, in this league, always, if you hit somebody with your elbow in the face-- because as a big man, it's very easy to hit somebody in the face with an elbow-- you're going to get called an offensive foul, some sort of foul.
That's the easiest way that bigs foul out usually is by picking up those type of offensive fouls, which, regardless of intent, are a foul. It's like, you can't do that. You can't just hit somebody in the head, right, regardless of whether you're bigger than them. Unfortunately, that's just the basic rules of the game.
So Embiid got called for one head shot the entire game. And he wasn't even really called for the head shot as much as it was just like Scottie had beaten him to the spot and was going through him. And he's face-planting the guy and smacking him. He elbows Khem in the face, no call. He hits OG.
IMMAN ADAN: And can I just say? Khem have to walk off the court. He came back. But he actually had to leave--
ASAD ALVI: Yeah, that had to check him for a concussion.
IMMAN ADAN: And he was down for the entire possession when the Sixers went the other way in transition there. He was down before the entirety of that. And when the Raptors came back and scored on that possession, he was still kind of hobbled and just trying to find his groove. It was four on five the entire time, and no call there. And then of course, OG loses a contact.
ASAD ALVI: And it's not even about complaining about the reffing. Like, OK, whatever. Even if Harden and Embiid get whatever free throws they get, whatever, yes, they're doing a lot of flopping. There was a lot of semantics. Personally, I think if you're 7' 2" and that big and that good of basketball, you shouldn't be doing all that.
In the third quarter, there was literally a possession where Harden tried to basically bait a jump shot foul on Achua and missed a jumper that led to a Raptors transition. And it's like, what are you doing? You're the biggest guy on the court, right?
IMMAN ADAN: Well, because he got one in the first half doing the same thing.
ASAD ALVI: But even all of that is fine. But you can't let a dude hit people in the face and not call anything, because then it's just like then you can't play. Then you can't even play the game at that point. So that was frustrating.
And now to actually get to the injuries. That Scottie injury is brutal. I don't know how else to put it. Luckily, the X-rays came back clean. So you have that. But again, that's a really bad ankle sprain. And we don't know what Scottie's history is with that ankle. I don't know if Scottie's had ankle sprain on that ankle before, how sensitive his foot is.
But the worst part about that injury is, when you watch it-- so usually, when you sprained ankle by yourself, where you just turn the ankle, like you're landing wrong, it's your own body weight. So once the ankle turns and you feel the strain, your body automatically reacts. So it fires back. Or usually, it's like, oh, it just pulled way too far. And now you're going back.
In this case, it's an external force. It's literally Embiid stepping on it. So when you actually watch the replay-- and I know this is going to be disgusting. So you can cut past this if you want. Skip ahead in the video if you'd like.
IMMAN ADAN: Can I--
ASAD ALVI: Basically-- but basically, you see it. The initial point where it turns, where Embiid's foot is like half on it, you see Scottie wince a little bit. He winces. And then when Embiid closes his entire step, you see Scottie let out a scream, because that's where it goes beyond the point where his body stopped the first turn.
And that's why I don't-- listen, I don't want to jinx him or anything. Hopefully he's back as soon as possible. But that does not look like an ankle sprain that is going to be a small amount of time. Hopefully he's like Giannis. Hopefully he's like LeBron, where he just magics himself back to the court, but yikes.
IMMAN ADAN: Speaking of Giannis and LeBron and Scottie being just like them-- because I don't want to hear any more about that injury, I'm sorry. We're skipping right by the ugly, because we know what was ugly. We saw it. And thankfully, those X-rays came back negative, for both him and for Thad Young as well.
Scottie did not look scared of the moment.
ASAD ALVI: No.
IMMAN ADAN: Scottie, unfortunately, left the game early 2 assists shy of a triple double in his playoff debut. That is amazing.
ASAD ALVI: Lots of stuff. And you saw-- I think the real question with Scottie was like-- and the questions really came-- it was like, Scottie, GTJ, Precious, even Chris Boucher to some extent, because he didn't have much playoff experience like actually playing games, it was like, how are these guys going to look in their first big, big playoff game where they're playing big minutes?
And Scottie came out. And first possession, I was like, oh, he looks a little shaky, gets Danny Green in the post, and then completely blows a layup off the backboard. Then he comes out next time, just dunks it two hands. And I'm like, all right, he's ready to go.
And Scottie looked amazing throwing a no-look pass to the baseline, a cutter for an easy dunk. He's basically getting guys on his back and not scared of the extra ball pressure on him, keeping his dribble alive. He just looked good all around.
He's shooting a jumper in Joel Embiid's face. It was, I think--
IMMAN ADAN: Shooting through contact.
ASAD ALVI: It was everything you could ask for from a debut for Scottie Barnes. And it is an absolute shame that it ended the way it did because that looked like it was going to be a 20-point triple double easily for the night. And you really hope that the kid comes back from it and he's back for the season.
I'd like to see him play again in the playoffs because, man, did he look special. And it would be a shame for him to miss out on a playoff run.
IMMAN ADAN: So I know that we were focusing on the good, the bad, and the ugly in the first half. But to me, the second half was just a continuation of what we saw. There were some good moments with the Raptors kind of fighting back. But nothing that they did in the second half really changed entirely from the bad that they were giving us in the first.
I mean, they kind of got closer to tying up the possession battle with the Sixers. But it still just wasn't good enough. And really, that third quarter was entirely the Maxey show. And the fourth quarter, the game was out of reach. Am I wrong in just sort of saying, that is the recap that we have of that game?