Season Series: Raptors 3-0
The Toronto Raptors hope to complete a 4-0 season weep against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. With five games remaining in the regular season, Dwane Casey has repeatedly mentioned the importance of taking each game as it comes. A match up with the 17-60 Philadelphia 76ers looks like an easy game on paper, but at this point in the season, no game is a given.
Thanks to a victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets moved within two games of the Raptors in the race for the Atlantic Division title. The Chicago Bulls and Raptors currently share identical 45-32 records. With Toronto’s final five games coming against Eastern Conference opponents, the Raptors want to control their own postseason seeding and lock up that third spot. They are also two wins away from tying the franchise record of 47 in a season.
The Raptors have never swept a season series against the Sixers. They’re averaging more than 106 points per contest in their three victories against Philadelphia this year.
What To Watch
Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson: The Raptors collected victories in their last three games (against the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks), but were without starters Lowry and Johnson. Lowry was sidelined with a bruised kneecap. Johnson missed time because of a sprained ankle. Both players participated in Tuesday’s practice, but are game-time decisions against the Sixers.
DeMar DeRozan’s offensive output: DeRozan is averaging 31.3 points in three games against Philadelphia. When the Raptors struggled against the Bucks on Saturday night, DeRozan came up big late, pouring in 15 points in the fourth quarter. The last time Toronto faced the Sixers, DeRozan scored 34 points and grabbed nine boards while getting to the free throw line 16 times.
Michael Carter-Williams: If there has been a positive for the 76ers, it has been the play of rookie point guard Carter-Williams. Starting the season on a tear, Carter-Williams returned to earth as the months went by, but he has still put together an impressive campaign in a year where there hasn’t been a lot of first-year players worth discussing. Carter-Williams is averaging 16.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. The 22 year-old is pretty damn good.
– “I’m happy for the guys who haven’t been in the playoffs because that is what makes being on a playoff team so much better than being on a losing team. I was on the Clippers and we were bad for two years. We won something like 27 games both years. You don’t have something to play for. After all-star break you are sort packing. Now that’s just not the case.” – Steve Novak on closing out the regular season knowing a postseason awaits
– “I think more than anything with what happened yesterday, you guys, we all know Jonas. It was obviously a mistake. He’s said that, and it shows that it took him less than 10 seconds to come out and say, ‘I made a mistake.’ It’s so out of character for him that anyone who is even remotely close to him knows who he is, what he stands for and how hard he works and what this means to him. How much he’s improved over the past year, I think that’s very telling. I think we know that he’s going to be fine and he’s going to use that as motivation. I don’t even think anyone is very worried about it. It’s a serious thing but I mean that in a ‘he’ll be able to focus’ way.” – Novak on Jonas Valanciunas playing through distraction after Sunday’s DUI charge
– “Be smart. We all have to be smart. All of us have to be smart with how we carry ourselves off of the floor, where we are, who we hang out with. Who we hang out with should give us good advice. … Fortunately nobody was hurt. He wasn’t hurt. It’s a lesson we all have to learn.” – Dwane Casey on his advice to Valanciunas
Raptors: Greivis Vasquez (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Patrick Patterson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Sixers: Michael Carter-Williams (G), James Anderson (G), Hollis Thompson (F), Thaddeus Young (F), Henry Sims (C)
Raptors: Kyle Lowry – sore left knee (day-to-day), Amir Johnson – sore right ankle (day-to-day)
Sixers: Byron Mullens – left ankle sprain (game-time decision), Arnett Moultrie – league suspension (out), Nerlens Noel left knee
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Sixers
|2013-14 AVERAGES||2013-14 RANKINGS|
Last Time They Met: Raptors 104, Sixers 95 – Jan. 24th, 2014