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Raptors avoid elimination as Sixers star Joel Embiid may need thumb MRI

TORONTO — It was a tough day for Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, who failed to sweep the Toronto Raptors in the first round.

Pascal Siakam scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, Gary Trent Jr. added 24 points and the Raptors beat Embiid and the Sixers 110-102 on Saturday.

Game 5 is Monday night in Philadelphia.

“We’ll be ready, I can guarantee you that,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said.

Embiid started despite a right thumb injury that required him to wear a brace.

“It’s painful,” Embiid said. “In basketball, you have to use your hand a lot.”

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. Fans briefly chanted “Raps in seven” after both coaches emptied their benches in the closing minutes.

Embiid said he injured his thumb in the first half of Wednesday’s third game and saved it at halftime. He finished that game with a decisive 3-pointer in overtime, but scored twice afterwards and in practice on Friday.

Joel Embiid couldn’t grab the offensive rebound in the 76ers’ 110-102 loss to the Raptors.

Although Rivers said the Sixers don’t think the injury could get any worse, Embiid was seen shaking his hand in pain several times on Saturday, sometimes doubling up as he squeezed the area.

“It’s going to be something he’ll have to deal with all the way through the playoffs from now on,” Rivers said. “It’s not going to go away. He will know how to use it better and better.

Embiid shot 3 for 10 in the first half. He finished 7 for 16 and scored 21 points in 39 minutes.

Embiid said he plans to have an MRI scan in Philadelphia on Monday, but is likely to continue playing even if doctors recommend surgery.

“I want to play,” he said. “I imagine that I keep playing and probably do something after the season.”

Rivers said the Sixers, who made 16 turnovers and were outshot 46-41, didn’t deserve to win on Saturday.

“We just made so many mistakes,” he said. “You can’t win an NBA regular season game with the mistakes we made, let alone a playoff game.”

Thaddeus Young scored 13 points, OG Anunoby had 10 and newly crowned NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes had six points and 11 rebounds off the bench as Toronto overcame an All-Star guard injury Fred VanVleet to avoid elimination.

Raptors avoid elimination as Sixers star Joel Embiid may need thumb MRI
Joel Embid
Getty Images

After being called for a foul with 4:57 left in the second quarter, VanVleet tore his jersey in frustration and left the field to go to the locker room with a strained left hip.

“He’s fought well this year and he’s still getting on and going out there and playing big minutes every night,” coach Nick Nurse said. “Not every guy in this league does that.”

The nurse said VanVleet was going for an MRI after the game. VanVleet shot 2 for 6 and scored five points in 15 minutes.

Tobias Harris had 15 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden scored 22 points for the 76ers. Harden shot 5 for 17, going 2 for 10 to 3-pointers.

After being held scoreless in the second half of Toronto’s Game 3 loss, Siakam shot 10-for-19 and 13-for-15 from the free throw line.

“It’s about moving forward, and that’s what he did,” Young said of Siakam.

Trent had scored 20 or more goals in consecutive games after being slowed by illness in Games 1 and 2.

“I wish I had felt like that the first two games,” Trent said. “My body feels good.”

Philadelphia called timeout with 9:10 remaining in the fourth quarter after Young’s steal on Embiid’s wayward pass led to a field goal for Achiuwa, giving Toronto an 88-81 lead.

Harden’s layup with 8:20 left made it 90-85, but Toronto scored the next six points, all from the free throw line. Embiid stopped the run with a pair at the line, but Anunoby’s 3-pointer with 3:44 left in the fourth gave the Raptors a 99-87 advantage.

Before the whistleblower, the NBA announced that Toronto’s Barnes won the rookie of the year award, edging out Cleveland’s Evan Mobley. The 15-point difference was the smallest margin in the rookie category under the current voting format that began with the 2002-03 season.

Barnes left Game 1 of the series after spraining his left ankle and hadn’t played since, but came off the bench midway through the first quarter on Saturday.

Barnes needed treatment after falling to defense early in the second, but stayed in the game.

Embiid missed all five shots he took in the first quarter, including one 3-pointer.

His only point in the opening period came when he made one of two free throws.

Toronto led 54-49 at halftime. Embiid shot 4-for-5 and scored eight in the third, but the Raptors took an 80-77 lead in the fourth.

New York Post

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