Raptors lose in dramatic fashion in what was a tremendous game all around

What a game.

No, it didn’t turn out like the players, coaches or fans wanted but Game 3 of Raptors-Sixers was simply delightful drama almost from start to finish, running the gamut of emotions and worth all the time anyone invested in it.

A season-killer for the locals, most likely, but if one of the goals was to get young players first-hand experience in the stress of the post-season they finally got it after two blah games in Philadelphia.

And you know what? If a 7-foot centre is going to take an inbounds pass with less than a second left on the shot clock, turn and make a three-pointer in a hostile environment with less than two seconds left in overtime, well, sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat to him.

Helluva shot, helluva play, one of the great screens ever set in that arena by Tobias Harris to get Joel Embiid free.

Just a clutch shot.

I don’t think the Raptors have a single thing to be sorry about – I know the knives are out for Pascal Siakam after a scoreless second half and overtime but I think he did his job while being guarded very well – because they played very well and the other guys just made one more play than they did.

Now with two days between games we’ll have plenty of time to think about what’s ahead.

For now, and because it’s what we do, a quick look at some leftover things.


Same old, same old

Defence has been the issue for the entire series for the Raptors. They just haven’t guarded well enough for any length of time, which is a bit surprising because they’ve been a passable defensive team most of the season.

But watching them struggle to get anything good on offence for about the last seven minutes or so was troubling.

As Fred VanVleet pointed out:

“We made some plays offensively. Again, generating shots hasn’t always been our issue in this series, it’s been our defense and i thought our defense was a lot better tonight. But yeah, in terms of closing out a game and executing down the stretch, that’s probably as bad as it gets.”

Nothing’s ever going to be pristine and free-flowing in the playoffs, a fact of which all the Raptors are now aware.

“This time of year is effort and running around and playing hard is not going to get it done,” Fred said. ”You got to bring all levels to the game, all aspects of game, you got to play a complete game and we just didn’t do that tonight.

Grinding it out

Not sure where the performance of Gary Trent Jr. would rank in the all-time-gutsy-Raptors-outings but it’d have been pretty near the top.

The guy had been sick as a dog for about a week – he looked terrible – yet somehow managed to play more than 45 minutes, score 24 shots, get a couple of steals and be his usual pesky defensive self.

It started fast: He had a steal, a deflection and hit a three-pointer in the first seven minutes of the game.

“This is the best that I’ve felt in the last week. Some type of viral (thing), whatever it may be — I don’t know what it is. Fever up to 102, lost like eight pounds. Slowly but surely I was getting my body back, getting my wind back, that’s about it. Just trying to push through,” he said.

Helluva game for sure.

Steep learning curve

Yeah, people are going to kill Precious Achiuwa for the two missed free throws and if he’d made even one maybe the whole overtime isn’t necessary and that’s absolutely true.

But if you get 20 and 6 out of a kid playing against someone who may very well be the MVP of the league this season in 35 minutes of intense playoff stress in what was really just the third post-season game of his life, well, that’s pretty darn good, no?

It’s pretty much how you’ve got to look at it. He is.

“It’s a learning experience. First time I’m actually playing significant minutes in the playoffs. Just learning, moving on, just getting better.

“Definitely I know I’m going to be back here a lot of times in my career, and like I said, it’s a learning experience moving forward for me.”

Tough lessons get learned sometimes.

All right, I’ve got to figure out what to write today and that’s not going to be an easy task. All ideas welcome but so are questions for Ye Olde Mailbag to give a reason to not think about today’s story all the time.

Shoot a note off to [email protected] if you can, I’d appreciate it.

And since I fully expect to be scrambling on Sunday morning to get a rapid antigen test so I can get to whatever flight I book Saturday evening for Sunday afternoon, the earlier you can get a question in, the easier it’ll be for me.





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