1 stud and 1 dud as Raptors stay alive vs. 76ers in Game 5 win

Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors went into Game 5 of their playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers with their backs against the wall. Not only would Gary Trent Jr, Precious Achiuwa, and the rest of the squad be eliminated from the playoffs with one more loss, but they had to take on Philly without Fred VanVleet due to a hip injury. 

The Raptors didn’t start like a team that was afraid of Joel Embiid and the vaunted 76ers’ offense in the early going. A hot beginning to the first quarter and a 12-0 run to start the second quarter showed that this team came to play tonight after some wonky beginnings in prior losses.

The Raptors picked up their second-straight win in this series by taking home a 103-88 triumph. After holding Philadelphia to just 14 points in the second quarter and 22 points in the fourth stanza, Toronto was able to earn themselves a Game 6 back in their friendly Canadian confines.

The Raptors came right out and took it to the 76ers, pulling away in the second half. Only a couple of players underperformed in what was a fairly balanced and unified victory for Toronto.

Philadelphia 76ers
Toronto Raptors

Precious Achiuwa played great basketball for the Toronto Raptors.

While Pascal Siakam was his usual All-NBA self and Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes was very impressive in his role as VanVleet’s fill-in, Achiuwa’s performance was even more impressive than those two when you look beyond the box score and examine what the second-year player did in just his third career playoff game.

Achiuwa recorded 17 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in this victory. Embiid missed more than half of his shots and turned the ball over four times in this game. Achiuwa’s play in the post unequivocally had something to do with that.

Achiuwa was taking on a guy who might win the MVP in Embiid and a quality player in Tobias Harris, and he didn’t seem bothered by it at all. Running the floor like a linebacker and thrashing the rim with rim-rattling dunks, Achiuwa’s performance off the bench made a world of difference.

The Raptors knew that Achiuwa was going to take some time to fully blossom, but they kept at it due to the potential of what he could become in the right situation. No matter what happens in this series, Achiuwa showed what a gem he can be in the very near future.

Gary Trent Jr. was off again for the Toronto Raptors.

After looking borderline unplayable due to an illness in the first two games of the series, Trent was raining down 3-pointers with regularity in Toronto’s two home victories. Unfortunately, Trent looked like his usual streaky self against Philly, going ice-cold in the second half.

After getting hot early and scoring nine points, Trent totaled just seven in the remaining three quarters. Three of them were on one jumper when the Raptors were up 12 with three minutes left and two of them were garbage-time free throws.

Toronto was once again below average from beyond the 3-point line, and the fact that one of their best pure shooters in trend was invisible for large chunks of the game is a reason.

You usually can tell within the first few minutes of a game if Trent has “it” working for him on any given night. However, he has not been the second-half closer that he was in the regular season. Trent is still a valuable piece, but his performance in road playoff games has not been a great look.