The Toronto Raptors played the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday in a well-hyped matchup between what were touted as two of the Eastern Conference's best three teams. The Raptors won rather comfortably in the end after surviving a fourth quarter comeback attempt.
1. The Sixers are a Tier Below the Raptors and Celtics
Even before watching this relatively easy win by the Raptors, I knew that Philly was not as good as Toronto and Boston.
Yes, they have the young talent; yes, they have the veteran presence; but no, they are not quite at the same level as the Raptors and Celtics are.
Until Ben Simmons, who recorded as many turnovers as he did points, (11) and Markelle Fultz, who was good for just eight points in 19 minutes, develop reliable jumpers, they will not make it to the conference finals, despite what Nick Wright may think, having chosen the Sixers to make it out of the East come May.
2. Joel Embiid is Really Good
We knew this before. It's been further confirmed by his latest performance against the Raptors, a game in which he totalled 31 points and 11 boards.
He's been putting the league on notice with not only his antics on social media and on the court, but his elite post-play.
3. Pascal Siakam is Breaking Out
As with my first two takeaways, we saw this coming. We just had not yet seen it come to fruition until the other night against Milwaukee. Against the Bucks, Siakam scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed eight boards. Against the Sixers, he put up a double-double, with 15 points and another career-high, 15 rebounds.
Keep in mind: Pascal started playing basketball at 17. Masai showed his genius by picking the kid late in the first round. Siakam has been performing for this team since day one. This year is just going to be different.
His length and athleticism have always been there; what's starting to show, and what's making him so much better this year, is his quickly increasing skill.