When it came time for the 76ers to respond in Game 2 and take momentum, they delivered. The play of Jimmy Butler and some timely defensive adjustments from head coach Brett Brown perhaps saved the season.
A new game, a new team
The Sixers looked like a while different team in Game 2 compared to just a few days earlier.
Their 94-89 victory to even the series showed they can compete with the Raptors in a seven-game series.
The defense made life difficult for the Raptors for the entire game forcing them to shoot 36.3 percent from the field, including 27 percent from three.
Despite Leonard’s 35 points on 13-of-24 shooting, mostly every shot he took was heavily contested. Unlike in Game 1, the Sixers sent double teams in Leonard’s direction, which forced him to pass the ball.
Leonard can’t be totally shot down, but Simmons has proved to be the best option. Per Jackson Frank of the Athletic and Liberty Ballers, Leonard is shooting 12-of-25 including 0-of-19 from three when guarded by Simmons.
When defended by someone else, he’s 17-of-22 and 6-of-8 from three.
Another timely adjustment by Brett Brown was to put Joel Embiid on Siakam defensively.
Siakam put some good moves on Embiid in Game 2 to get easy looks but wasn’t nearly as effective as his was in the first game.
When guarded by Embiid, Siakam shot 6-of-17 from the field, per Jackson Frank.
Now it’s up to the Raptors to counter.
James Butler? Ok, Maybe Not
After game two, Brett Brown had some strong feelings about the play of Jimmy Butler.
“This was James Butler,” Brown told the media. “That was the adult in the gym.”
Butler responded when the media asked him about being referred to as “James.”
“My name isn’t James,” Butler said. “It literally is Jimmy.”
He doesn’t like to be called James, but Brown’s point was well taken. They need him to be an offensive force if the Sixers are to win games.
Butler set the tone early by hitting two threes in the opening quarter.
Throughout the game he drove to the basket with the purpose of finishing at the rim or drawing a foul.
He finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Butler playing aggressive offensively is when the Sixers are at their best. They just have too many options to worry about when everyone is engaged.
Now the series heads to Philly tied at one game apiece.
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