Rick Zamperin: Philadelphia 76ers make Toronto Raptors pay for their slow start

Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) looks to pass as Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) falls while defending during first half, second round NBA basketball playoff action in Toronto, on Monday, April 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The Toronto Raptors didn’t start Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers with the same intensity and production like they did in their series opener, and it ultimately cost them in the end.

The Raptors trailed Philly 26-17 after the first quarter, 51-38 at halftime, and 69-63 heading into the fourth quarter before they fell 94-89 against the Sixers on Monday night.

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At one point, Toronto was down by 19 points before they whittled that deficit down to one point in the third quarter and had a chance to tie the game with about 10 seconds left in regulation, but Danny Green’s open look three-point attempt clanked off the rim.

Philly not only broke the Raps’ five-game winning streak in this year’s playoffs, they snapped their 14-game losing streak in Toronto dating back to Nov. 10, 2012.

READ MORE: Leonard gets little help in Raptors’ loss

Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the floor for either team, scoring 35 points on 13-of-24 attempts from the field, while teammates Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry chipped in with 21 and 20 points, respectively.

But the Raptors had trouble stopping Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler, who led the 76ers with 30 points on the night after he managed just 10 points in the series opener.

The more troubling stat was how badly Toronto’s bench struggled on the offensive side of the ball, scoring just five points compared to Philly’s 26 bench points.

READ MORE: Leonard lifts Raptors to Game 1 win

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Their second round NBA playoff series is now tied 1-1 and the Sixers have seized home court advantage, with Game 3 scheduled for Thursday night in Philadelphia.

A better start is an absolute must for Toronto if they want to once again have the upper hand in this series.

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