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Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors puts up a shot over Paul Reed #44 of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena on April 23, 2022 in Toronto.COLE BURSTON/Getty Images

Even after Fred VanVleet limped off the court with hip pain, the Toronto Raptors found a way to avoid being swept by the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

Pascal Siakam provided a 34-point performance – his best ever in a post-season. Gary Trent Jr., just recovered from an illness, added 24 points. Veteran Thaddeus Young stepped up with 13 points, while rookie Scottie Barnes energized the Raps in his return from injury, providing six points and 11 rebounds off the bench, many of those pinching in at point guard.

The 110-102 victory was Toronto’s first of this best-of-seven series, which now shifts back to Philadelphia for Monday’s Game 5, with the 76ers leading 3-1. The Raptors have survived to play another day.

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However, the team is concerned for VanVleet. It said the All-Star point guard has a strained left hip. He was headed immediately for more imaging on it.

Philly’s NBA MVP finalist Joel Embiid, playing through a thumb injury, was held to 21 points and eight rebounds, as Toronto’s raucous Scotiabank Arena crowd hounded him all afternoon. James Harden provided 22 points and nine assists.

No NBA team has ever rallied back from a 3-0 series deficit to win a best-of-seven series. The Raps were beat badly in the first two games in Philadelphia, then suffered a three-point overtime loss in Game 3 after leading nearly all night. Game 4 was clearly Toronto’s best performance of the series.

Barnes’s return benefitted the Raptors in many ways. He had missed Games 2 and 3 with a sprained left ankle, which he suffered in the opening game of the series when seven-foot Embiid landed on his foot.

Barnes was awarded his NBA Rookie of the Year glass trophy before the Saturday game to a huge ovation from fans. He had learned he would be receiving the award one day earlier, at practice alongside his team. The news was delivered via a video message from Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire – the only other Raptors in history to win the award. When it was clear what Carter was saying to them, the other Raptors crowded around Barnes excitedly to embrace the 20-year-old rookie. Video of their reaction played on the big board at Saturday’s game.

“I was just super happy,” Barnes said. “We’ve got a family here.”

The award provided a positive moment on Friday as the team sat down 3-0 in the series.

“It gave us a boost,” Siakam said of sharing that moment with Barnes.

Barnes had been vocal all year that the award was his goal. He didn’t start in Saturday’s game, but came off the bench in the first quarter, jumping right in with defence on Harden and Embiid.

Embiid was held without a field goal in the first quarter. Fans continued to boo and jeer him loudly, as they had in Game 3. They roared especially vociferously when Toronto’s veteran reserve Young crossed up the 76ers big man and drained a step-back jump shot over him.

Young also defended Embiid at times.

“It’s tough, he’s a big body, a big strong guy,” Young said. “It’s not my first rodeo playing against him.”

When Philly’s MVP finalist was taking a breather in the second quarter, the Raptors capitalized and went on a mini-run, surging into the lead.

Young and Chris Boucher, adding huge energy, remained in with the starters. Boucher would add nine points in his 19 minutes off the bench Saturday.

Late in the second quarter, VanVleet began to limp awkwardly, ripped his jersey in frustration and walked right off the court and out of the arena. He had five points and three assists on 2-of-6 shooting when he left after 15 minutes.

The Raps led 54-49 by halftime, but returned from the locker room after the break without VanVleet. Barnes was shouldering some of the ball-handling duties, but several other Raptors helped, too.

Trent scored seven of his points in the second half, and had two steals. He said he’d lost about 10 pounds during the non-COVID-19 illness that had plagued him earlier in the series. He added that he felt much better Saturday. With good food and hydration, he has been able to regain some weight.

Siakam continued to put points on the board – 15 of them in the fourth quarter alone. Earlier in the series, he had been criticized for not taking enough shots, nor being sufficiently assertive and decisive. On Saturday, he didn’t hesitate. He scored in all kinds of ways

“Not a lot of looking around, but just taking what was there,” he said of his improved play offensively on Saturday.

Head coach Nick Nurse saw a Siakam who was aggressive and playing without fear to make a play. Siakam had three assists, but the coach said he could have had a dozen if teammates had made a few more of the shots he created for them.

Now the trick will be anticipating the adjustments Philly makes for Siakam in Game 5.

If the Raps can survive Monday night, Game 6 will be in Toronto on Thursday.