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

TORONTO — It was a thumbs-down day for Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, who failed to wrap up a first-round win for the Toronto Raptors.

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

Game 5 takes place in Philadelphia on Monday night.

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

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

“It’s painful,” Embiid said. “You need a lot of hands in basketball.”

Never has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. The fans briefly chanted “Raps in seven” after both coaches emptied their benches in the final minutes.

Embiid said he injured his thumb in the first half of Game 3 on Wednesday and had it taped at halftime. He finished that game with a crucial 3-pointer in overtime but wore braces after that and in Friday’s practice.

Joel Embiid failed to pack the offensive reboud in the 76ers' 110-102 Game 4 loss to the Raptors.
Joel Embiid failed to pack the offensive reboud in the 76ers’ 110-102 Game 4 loss to the Raptors.

Although Rivers said the Sixers don’t think the injury can get worse, Embiid was seen shaking his hand in pain multiple times on Saturday and occasionally doubling over when squeezing the area.

“He’s going to have to deal with that in the playoffs from that point forward,” Rivers said. “It won’t go away. He’s getting better and better at figuring out how to use it.”

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

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

“I want to play,” he said. “I could see myself continuing to play and probably doing something after the season.”

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

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

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 injury to all-star guard Fred VanVleet to prevent elimination .

Joel Embid
Joel Embid
Getty Images

After being called out for a foul with 4:57 left in the second quarter, VanVleet tore his jersey apart in frustration and walked off the court to the dressing room with a sprained left hip.

“He’s cracked up pretty good this year and continues to lace up and go out and play big minutes every night,” said coach Nick Nurse. “Not everyone does that in this league.”

The nurse said VanVleet would have an MRI done 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 had 22 points for the 76ers. Harden shot 5 for 17, 2 for 10 from 3 point range.

After staying scoreless in the second half of Toronto’s Game 3 loss, Siakam shot 10-19 and went 13-15 at 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 down by illness in Games 1 and 2.

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

Philadelphia called a 9-10 timeout in the fourth quarter after Young’s steal on Embiid’s erratic pass led to a driving basket 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 at the free-throw line. Embiid stopped the run by pairing at the line, but Anunoby’s 3-pointer with 3:44 left in the fourth gave the Raptors a 99-87 advantage.

Prior to the tip, the NBA announced that Toronto’s Barnes had 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, which began with the 2002–03 season.

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

Barnes required treatment after falling into defense early in the second game but stayed in the game.

Embiid missed all five shots he made in the first quarter, including one from 3-point range.

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

Toronto led 54-49 at the half. Embiid shot 4-to-5 and scored eight points in the third game, but the Raptors went 80-77 ahead. Raptors avoid elimination as Sixers star Joel Embiid may need thumb MRI


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