1 stud and 1 dud as Precious Achiuwa and Raptors defeat 76ers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Gary Trent Jr. and the Toronto Raptors would’ve had a daunting task ahead of them against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers even if Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby were in the lineup. The pair of them missing this game due to injury meant that names like Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa needed to step up.

This game was packed to the brim with momentum swings. From Toronto getting dusted on the defensive side of the ball early to a tremendous second quarter and four-minute scoring drought in the third, the full spectrum of 2021-22 Raptors basketball was on display on Sunday night.

After surrendering 37 points in the first quarter, Toronto allowed just 51 in the remaining three stanzas. When Chris Boucher took a charge from James Harden in the closing minutes, Toronto wrapped up a 93-88 victory in Philadelphia.

The Raptors put forth a very gritty effort against one of the best teams in the league despite one-third of their healthy rotation being sidelined due to injuries. There were some very disappointing performances tonight, but Toronto should generally feel good about how they played.

88. 93. Final. 93. 81

Precious Achiuwa stepped up for the Toronto Raptors.

The reinvention of Achiuwa on the fly has been incredible to watch. While he started the year as a defensive stalwart that became infamous for his poor finishing around the rim, the Achiuwa we’ve seen after the All-Star break is a legitimate stretch big with excellent 3-point shooting.

Achiuwa ended the night with 21 points on 9-15 shooting from the field. On a night where the Raptors were a lackluster 7-26 from 3-point range, Achiuwa went 2-4 from downtown. He and Armoni Brooks were the only Raptors to make multiple 3-pointers.

Pascal Siakam was once again making his presence felt on both ends of the floor while Boucher continued his trend of putting together dominant performances against Philadelphia. Achiuwa’s burst of energy and efficiency helped the Raptors pick up steam in the second quarter.

While Achiuwa started in this game due to the health concerns around this roster, the Raptors will likely be trusting him to serve as a reliable Sixth Man when everyone returns to full health. Now that it appears he’s sustaining his breakout, Toronto should feel confident putting the ball in Achiuwa’s hands for extended periods.

Gary Trent Jr wasn’t very productive for the Toronto Raptors.

Trent has always been a bit inconsistent, but these last few weeks have been equal parks concerning and puzzling. While he made some big shots and the Lakers and topped 40 points in an upset win against the Suns, Trent was completely lost on the offensive side of the ball against the 76ers.

Trent started the game off at 2-13 from the field and finished with just nine points. Trent has scored 10 or fewer points four times since the All-Star break, which is not acceptable for a player that is going to get a consistent diet of 3-balls on a shooting deficient team. He needs to break out of his mental fog.

While the lack of spacing due to the absence of VanVleet and Anunoby might be one explanation for his poor shooting, Trent has been completely ineffective in multiple tight situations over the last few weeks. He’ll be fine long-term, but this short-term funk is worth watching closely.

He did get a key steal late in the game, but the 33 minutes leading up to that were rough.

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