Brett Brown hoping Sixers rally around injured teammate Josh Richardson

TORONTO -- Before Wednesday night's meeting, Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown and Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse both said they viewed the game as a measuring stick against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff team.

After Toronto's 107-95 victory -- one that saw Sixers guard Josh Richardson exit with a left hamstring strain less than five minutes in -- Brown was left hoping that Richardson's injury, and the potential absence that could follow, will wind up being a silver lining for a team that's already playing without star center Joel Embiid.

"I see it as an opportunity," Brown said.

"Something will happen out of this, where something will emerge. The spirit of the group is incredible. I really like coaching the team. They've got a togetherness, and we'll figure this out. And then, in the not-too-distant future, here comes Jo, whatever that means, and we'll deal with J-Rich's injury on the terms I just said."

The injury to Richardson -- who declined to speak to the media after the game and will be reevaluated Thursday back in Philadelphia -- happened at the 8:15 mark of the first quarter, following a Ben Simmons bucket. Richardson rushed up to Fred VanVleet to try to pick off the ensuing inbounds pass, only to immediately grab at his left leg after getting close to the Toronto guard.

Richardson, clearly in pain, didn't even attempt to go back over half court, instead standing near Brown until Raptors forward Pascal Siakam scored and Brown was able to call a timeout to get Richardson out of the game.

At that point, he didn't even attempt to sit on the bench, slowly making his way back to Philadelphia's locker room accompanied by a trainer.

"Somebody has to step up," said Simmons, who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in 38 minutes. "That's everybody. One guy goes down, everybody has got to step up."

Richardson, 26, is in his first season in Philadelphia after being acquired in a sign-and-trade deal with the Miami Heat for Jimmy Butler in the offseason, and missed six games earlier this season with a right hamstring injury. In addition, Embiid -- who underwent surgery to repair a torn radial collateral ligament in the ring finger of his left hand Jan. 10 after he injured it against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 6 -- still has a way to go before he returns.

In the meantime, a team that already has been actively looking to upgrade depth across its roster is now going to be trying to win without two of its starters -- a task that will only be made more difficult by a schedule through the All-Star Break in mid-February that includes games against both Los Angeles teams, plus the Boston Celtics, Heat and Milwaukee Bucks.

And, against another high-level opponent Wednesday night in the Raptors, Philadelphia saw just how difficult that task will be.

Even on a night when Philadelphia shot an impressive 18-for-46 from 3-point range (though just 11-for-34 after the first quarter), it still wasn't enough to prevent the Sixers from losing their 15th consecutive regular-season game here against the defending champions. As the night wore on, reserves such as Furkan Korkmaz (17 points on 6-for-13 shooting) and Shake Milton (nine points on 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range) were stretched north of 20 minutes in an attempt to make up for Richardson's absence -- only for the Raptors' physicality to slowly wear the Sixers down as the game progressed.

Philadelphia (29-17) has been considered to be a thin team even when having its full complement of players available. That lack of depth was more glaring when facing a Toronto team that, after dealing with one injury after another this season, now finally has its top seven players all healthy at the same time.

"I felt that the athletes and the physicality, and the downhill attack, you felt all of that for the whole game," Brown said. "I felt like the physicality, the athleticism, was something we felt. That's a team that won a NBA championship, and got used to playing that style, and winning with that style you have to if you're going to play in June."

Toronto (30-14) didn't leave the game unscathed from an injury standpoint, either, as guard Patrick McCaw played just 17 seconds early in the second quarter before suffering a broken nose after being inadvertently hit by 76ers center Norvel Pelle.

The Raptors said he would remain behind to see a specialist and not travel with the team to New York for Friday's game against the Knicks.

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Richardson exits with hamstring injury
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Josh Richardson is forced to leave the game in the first quarter with a strained left hamstring.
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