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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 15, 2018 1:00 am

NBA PLAYOFFS

Raptors open up with close win

Associated Press

TORONTO – For the first time in almost 17 years, the Toronto Raptors are off to a winning start in a playoff series.

Not that they're overly excited about it.

Serge Ibaka had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Delon Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak in playoff openers by beating the Washington Wizards 114-106 on Saturday.

“It's out of the way now,” DeMar DeRozan said of the streak. “Worry about Game 2.”

DeRozan scored 17 points, C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby each had 12 and Kyle Lowry had 11 points and nine assists for the Raptors, whose only previous victory in the opening game of a playoff series came in the second round at Philadelphia on May 6, 2001.

Toronto entered having lost an NBA-worst 10 consecutive Game 1s since, including six at home.

“I think the fans are more relieved than we are,” Wright said.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said his team, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, is focused on more than Game 1.

“We're not satisfied,” Casey said. “We're in this for the long run.”

Toronto put its streak in the past by hitting 16 of 30 3-point attempts, a team record for a postseason game.

“We let a few of their guys that just can flat-out shoot, shoot a lot of 3s,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

Miles made four from long range, while Ibaka and Wright each hit three.

“I always thought Serge was going to be the X-factor with his shooting when they double-team Kyle and DeMar,” Casey said. “His 3-point shooting is huge.”

Brooks called Ibaka “one of the best, if not the best, big man shooter in the league.”

The Raptors host Game 2 on Tuesday. 

76ERS 130, HEAT 103: In Philadelphia, Ben Simmons had 17 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in his playoff debut, and Philadelphia romped again without Joel Embiid, earning its 17th straight win.

Embiid was a spectator in Game 1 of the first-round series because of a broken orbital bone around his left eye. The All-Star center has been hopeful he can return early in the series. The Sixers could end this one early with Embiid back in the lineup.

Simmons dished and dazzled in the paint and the Heat had no answer for Sixers reserves Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.

Belinelli and Ilyasova combined to hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter that helped shift the tone from physical and foul-filled to a long-distance game that allowed the Sixers to put away this one.

They used a 15-0 run in the third in their first postseason game in five seasons under coach Brett Brown to get the rout rolling.

Brown won 47 games his first three seasons as the Sixers underwent the Process – and 52, plus Game 1 this season.

JJ Redick scored 28 points to lead the Sixers, who host Game 2 on Monday. Belinelli had 25 and Ilyasova 17.

Embiid ditched the black mask he's been wearing in light shooting drills for a white “Phantom of the Opera” mask to ring the ceremonial Liberty Bell before tipoff.

The Sixers crowd roared as Embiid, the self-proclaimed “Phantom of the Process,” waved his arms toward the crowd and exhorted them to get louder. Sixers fans started tailgating in the sports complex about seven hours before tipoff and one group posted a sign on their tent that read “Saturdays Are For The Process.”

The Sixers had a blue-out and gave away free T-shirts in preparation of their first playoff game since 2012.