Raptors dominate the 76ers in Game 5
Kawhi Leonard shouldered the load through the first four games of the series. He got plenty of help from his teammates on Tuesday.
And now the Raptors are one win away from a berth in the Eastern Conference finals after their biggest playoff victory in history _ a 125-89 rout over the Philadelphia 76ers that has Toronto up 3-2 in their best-of-seven series.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points, showing no signs of the calf contusion he suffered in Game 3, while Leonard _ who'd been brilliant in scoring 152 points through the first four games _ had 21 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
Kyle Lowry had 19 points, while Danny Green had five three-pointers and 17 points for the Raptors, who pulled away with a big second quarter and led by as many as 40 points.
Rounding out the six Raptors in double figures: Marc Gasol chipped in with 11 points for Toronto, while Serge Ibaka had 10 points, despite playing most of the game with three stitches and an egg on his forehead, thanks to an errant Leonard elbow.
Jimmy Butler had 22 points for the Sixers, while Joel Embiid, whose status had been questionable earlier in the day due to an upper respiratory infection, finished with 13.
Game 6 is Thursday in Philadelphia. A Game 7 if necessary would be Sunday in Toronto.
The Raptors, who've made the conference finals just once in franchise history (2016), were back on home court after splitting their two games in Philly, bouncing back from a 116-95 rout in Game 3 to beat the Sixers 101-96 in Game 4, one of the biggest wins in franchise history.
While Leonard didn't have the offensive firepower of the previous four games, his teammates more than pulled their weight _ and the result was an offence that was flowing nicely.
Leading by a point after one quarter, the Raptors pulled away in the second outscoring Philadelphia by 20 points in the period. And by the time Gasol drilled a three-pointer with 1:29 left in the third, the lead had grown to 24.
Leonard put the punctuation mark on the thrashing with a monster rim-hanging dunk over Embiid _ the ball bouncing off both Embiid's nose and head _ to end the third quarter. The Raptors led 92-70 with one quarter left.
Toronto kept its figurative foot on Philly's throat through the fourth, going up by 31 points on a Gasol three-pointer with 10:02 to play. And when Embiid checked out of the game with just under nine minutes left, hundreds of fans _ and Drake _ made like airplanes, mocking the Cameroon player's showboating in Game 3.
The huge lead allowed Nick Nurse to sit Leonard and Siakam for the final seven-and-a-half minutes. Lowry and Gasol left the game a minute later. All four were serenaded off the court with standing ovations from the Scotiabank Arena crowd that included Drake, Julius (Dr. J) Erving, and Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner.
Sixers coach Brett Brown was asked about his team's defence versus Leonard. The danger, he said, was in leaving Toronto players open at the perimeter.
``Whatever you decide to do (to stop Leonard), I don't think you're living in it because the punishment behind it is the NBA's best three-point shooting team,'' Brown said.
The Raptors, who climbed to No. 1 in three-point shooting after they acquired Marc Gasol, shot 16-for-39 from three-point range for 41 per cent. The Sixers made just six of their 22 three-point attempts.
Trailing by seven early on, the Raptors went on a 14-1 run capped by a Leonard running dunk to put Toronto up by four points late in the third quarter. Butler was fouled on a three-point attempt with half a second on the clock, and his three free throws cut the Raptors lead to 27-26 heading into the second.
Ibaka returned with bandaged head to start the second quarter, and showed no fear from the whack to his head, scoring on a driving dunk early in the frame. It set the stage for an excellent quarter that saw Green connect on all three of his three-pointers, and six Raptors score. With the clock ticking down, Leonard drove between Harris and James Ennis for a massive dunk with 2.6 seconds on the clock.
The Scotiabank Arena crowd chanted ``M-V-P!'' as the Raptors headed for the locker-room up 64-43 at halftime.