Takeaways from the Toronto Raptors impressive win over the 76ers

Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Marc Gasol continues to prove he is the ultimate “Embiid-stopper”

The origins of the Toronto Raptors picking up Marc Gasol are simple. With significant money left on his contract, the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies were looking to unload Gasol; while the Raptors were looking to upgrade at center and get a post presence who could help them bang with the Myles Turners, Giannis Antetokounmpos and Joel Embiids of the world. With their Atlantic Division foes still holding the most importance, Gasol’s defense on Embiid over the years has been nothing short of amazing, and this continued in a big way on Monday night.

In 32 minutes Embiid went 0-for-11 from the field, which included going 0-for-4 from the 3-point line and perhaps showing that Gasol is simply in Embiid’s head at this point, he also went 0-for-3 from the free-throw line. It was defensive domination by Gasol.

Embiid was never allowed to be comfortable on the catch, as Gasol would use his burly frame to bump him as he received post-entry passes. Since Gasol did his job in keeping Embiid at bay on the catch, this afforded enough time for the Raptors perimeter players to aggressively double team him, forcing the Sixers to rotate the ball around for 3-point looks.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown tried to scheme up plays to screen for Embiid and get him free but was disappointed to see that Nurse had his squad prepared for this too. Gasol lumbered around screens, doing his best to contain Embiid and on the rare instances where Embiid got a step on Gasol, there was always one or two Toronto players there to step in.

Philadelphia’s strategy opened things up for their shooters–particularly Josh Richardson, who went 5-for-9 from deep–but it was still an excellent ploy from Nick Nurse. When facing the Sixers it is always a bright idea to challenge their shooting to beat you rather than Embiid.

Any time you hold the Sixers’ leading scorer to zero points, you’re likely walking out of the building with a victory. And the Raptors have shown that they are quite good at limiting the opposing team’s star player.


Internally, Philadelphia probably feels good about a postseason rematch with the now Kawhi-less Raptors, but Gasol continues to confound Embiid, giving the Raptors quite the mental (and physical) advantage should these teams run into each in the Eastern Conference playoffs.