Sixers vs. Raptors: JJ Redick crushes Toronto for key 'mind-boggling' mistake

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Redick crushes Raptors for a key 'mind-boggling' mistake originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers put up a combined 243 points in the first two games of their first-round series against the Raptors, a pretty sizable number considering they averaged 109.9 points per game (18th in the league) and the Raptors allowed 107.1 points per game (7th in the league) during the regular season.

Basketball talking heads were pretty split on this series before it began, with many thinking it could be a dangerous matchup for the Sixers and would be a tough battle even if they came out victorious.

So... why have they blow Toronto away in two games by a combined 35 points?

MORE: 3 observations after Embiid, Sixers grab Game 2 vs. Raptors

Former Sixers shooting guard and current NBA analyst JJ Redick gave his view on the series so far Tuesday during ESPN's First Take. He too is pretty surprised by what's going on, but he's seen a trend that might explain the results:

"I am actually surprised, a little bit, at how much [the Sixers have] dominated this series. The Raptors look completely outmatched. Philly's more physical than them, they've got more size than them. Going into this series I thought this was going to be one of the most fascinating first-round series. 

"[...] 

"I didn't see any adjustment between Game 1 and Game 2 [from Nurse]. The adjustment was, 'We're going to be super physical in the first 10 minutes of the game and we're going to be more aggressive trying to get to the basket and create pass-and-kick opportunities. 

"In terms of how they're guarding Philly? It's a bunch of guys in gaps against James Harden, and a bunch of guys in a dig position against Joel Embiid. Those guys are going to put up numbers. But what that's allowed the Sixers to do is just make target practice passes for target practice shots. The amount of set threes that Philly's shooters are getting in this series is mind-boggling. Mind-boggling. No one within five feet of them. So that's the adjustment you're going to have to make."

Get 'em, JJ!

Gotta agree with the former Sixers sharpshooter here. I was none too confident heading into this series, and even though I figured there was a chance they could pull it out I certainly didn't have the Sixers winning each of the first two games in such dominating fashion. I'm blown away.

And he's also spot-on about the open threes. Check out these numbers from the Sixers over the first two games, via NBA.com's tracking stats:

  • 3P attempts with 4-6 feet of space: 20 | 40.0%

  • 3P attempts with 6+ feet of space: 34 | 52.9%

THIRTY-FOUR ATTEMPTS that the league labels as "wide open" looks in just two games?! Nick Nurse, buddy, what's the plan here?!

To be (somewhat) fair, Nurse probably didn't expect the Sixers to shoot 30-for-62 on their threes in Games 1 and 2 combined. That's kind of crazy. But get this: 22% of the Sixers' shots from 10+ feet have been those 6+ foot "wide open" threes. One in every five. That's a lot!

MORE: Embiid explains NSFW chat with Nurse at end of Game 2

The Sixers can't bank on shooting nearly 50% from deep forever, but the Raptors also can't bank on the Sixers' shooters simply missing wide-open looks when they keep getting them in bunches.

Will Nurse adjust? Probably. And will the Sixers' shooters cool down, particularly on the road in a hostile environment. Probably.

But Nurse's initial gambit - focus on Embiid and Harden and let the shooters shoot - did not work, and now the Raptors coach is on his back foot instead of on the aggressive and pushing his own agenda. That's great news for the Sixers.

We'll see what follows in Game 3.