The thing got hot and Rivers escaped the fire. The coach was in the sights of almost the entire NBA when, after putting on his Sixers with a 3-0 in favor in the series against the Raptors, lose two games and go to Toronto with the need to avoid a seventh and an elimination that would have been dramatic for him. He would have outdone himself. He has lost 3-1 leads on as many as three occasions in playoffs and in the previous of this sixth date the press reminded him. Puffing out his chest, he even justified blows like those of the Clippers or that first of the Magic in 2003. More than anyone else, the pressure was on him. The players responded by throwing a cape at him and he was able to breathe easy: those from Philly will be in the next round and in it they will face the powerful Heat, the highest-ranked Eastern team in the regular season. A serious performance and in which they knew how to squeeze the rival until it was dry, validated the ticket to the conference semifinals with a bulky result: 97-132.

Joel Embiid’s thumb injury will have a few extra days to improve, several players are happier from this duel and, for example, Matisse Thybulle’s loss is forgotten (he could not play at the ScotiaBank Arena because he was not fully vaccinated) . One less problem for a candidate team for years that has not avoided the problems in each of them.

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The cover letter was made appealing to the Sixers and they knew how to take advantage of it. Canadians couldn’t count on Fred VanVleetan All-Star level point guard who has not had the expected performances and who was finally missing in the farewell of these playoffs. Little to ask of Nurse, who had to play without a base for many minutes. It was not because of the shooting card that he was left in charge, Pascal Siakam, and its 9/17. It wasn’t why she squeezed Chris Boucher, who was a substitute, and his 25+10. The direction on the track and, why deny it, the higher quality in the opponent decided the balance. The first part was entertaining and had alternatives, but when leaving the break the magic broke the Raptors and the scoreboard stretched to the broken one with which it was considered good.

One of the two turning points came in the second quarter. There, with the Raptors holding a five- to 10-point lead and Boucher doing everything right, they didn’t kill the Sixers. A gap was opened through which an ex of the house entered, Danny Green, based on triples. In fact, such was the confusion of the locals that they found themselves behind on the scoreboard before reaching the break. What Joel Embiid (33) picked up from heaven and what he produced placed him as the top scorer of the match, but only until the other key point of the match arrived: Tyrese Maxey (25). A dream third quarter for Rivers’ men came led by what many already consider to be the third leg of the big three of this team. Maxey closed an important quarter with a triple, Nurse called a timeout and Maxey hit a triple again, on arrival to honor his hallmark. The +20 landed like a snowball in cold Canada. Rapper Drake, also an ambassador for the Raptors, left the smiles and left his seat so as not to see what was coming: Embiid celebrating in his pavilion. The Cameroonian even took an unnecessary elbow from his compatriot Siakam, nor did his celebrations proceed by ordering the public to shut up and even more so having a thumb exposed to unnecessary injuries, winning so forcefully. The subs finished the job, but not before also seeing high-voltage players who were not always comfortable like Harden (22) or Harris (19) taking a deep breath. It was a victory in which everyone won, which is something that cannot be said so often. And with it, to Miami.

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