Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Records: Raptors (0-2), 76ers (2-1)
Where to watch
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 29
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: Sportsnet (Canada), NBC Sports Philadelphia or NBA League Pass (USA)
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Toronto Raptors travel to take on the Philadelphia 76ers, who are coming off of a blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In a 24-point loss to the Cavs, the Sixers were without All-Star big man Joel Embiid, who was a last-minute scratch from the lineup due to back tightness. The offence sputtered in his absence, with Tobias Harris (16) and Ben Simmons (15) combining for 31 points to lead the way for Philly.
Free-agent acquisition Dwight Howard got the start in Embiid's absence and scored nine points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting in 15 minutes of action but the 76ers had no answer for big man Andre Drummond, who finished with a 24-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Embiid's status for Tuesday is uncertain but it's no question that his availability sways the entire outlook of the game.
As for the Raptors, defensive lapses and sloppy play have resulted in an 0-2 start that is far from ideal. Toronto is looking to bounce back from a narrow loss to the San Antonio Spurs in which they were outscored 9-0 in the game's final minutes.
ONE PLAY: Defensive lapse shows Toronto's early-season struggles
Through two games, Pascal Siakam has done a bit of everything with averages of 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists while Fred VanVleet has also added 18.0 points per contest. Both Kyle Lowry and Chris Boucher are averaging 17.0 points per game, with Boucher coming off of an impressive performance in which he finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.
As the team works to incorporate new pieces, the Raptors look to avoid the first 0-3 start since the 2005-06 season. For many reasons, it all starts on the defensive end.
3 Things to watch
1. North Philly's finest
Kyle Lowry is Philly made and Philly tough and even without fans in attendance, there's clearly something extra he gets from playing in his hometown.
In his last three regular-season games at the Wells Fargo Center, Lowry is averaging 22.0 points, 5.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 42.3% from beyond the arc, although the Raptors are just 1-2 in those games.
Add in the extra desperation that comes with starting this season out 0-2 and we could see Lowry tap into another level on Tuesday.
2. Battles on the block with Embiid
Over the last two seasons, Marc Gasol made life difficult for Joel Embiid.
With Gasol gone, the task of making things difficult for the big man now falls to Aron Baynes, who has had plenty of battles on the block with Embiid in his time. Taking the regular season and postseason into account, the two have met a total of 10 times and while Baynes' teams have posted a 7-3 record in those games, Embiid has found ways to get his.
In their most recent meeting, which came on Mar. 20, 2019, Embiid finished with 37 points and 22 rebounds, thanks largely in part to his shooting 20-for-21 from the free-throw line.
Should Baynes find himself in foul trouble, Nick Nurse could call upon Alex Len and potentially Chris Boucher, Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby to try to make things difficult on Embiid. The fact of the matter is that it will be a team effort to limit Embiid's production.
3. Danny Green's impact
After seeing DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl on Saturday, the Raptors are set to see yet another familiar face in Danny Green.
Through three games with his new team, Green is averaging 4.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 rebounds and, after hitting just two of his first 11 3-point attempts, will look to find his rhythm against his former team. If history is any indicator, that might be easier said than done.
In five games against his former teams last season (Spurs and Raptors), Green shot just 2-for-20 (10.0%) from beyond the arc. He'll look to reverse that fortune when the Raptors come to town.
• Patrick McCaw (Left knee rehab) - Out
• Joel Embiid (Back tightness) - Probable
• Furkan Korkmaz (Left adductor strain) - Out
• Toronto has not opened the season with three straight losses since the 2005-06 season, where it lost the first nine games of the season
• The 76ers are 30-2 in regular-season games at the Wells Fargo Center over the last two seasons
• This is the first of three meetings between the Raptors and 76ers this season, Philadelphia is set to travel to Tampa for two games in late February.
• The Raptors have won the season series over the 76ers in seven straight seasons. The last time Toronto dropped the season series to Philadelphia was in 2012-13.
• Toronto is a league-best 24-4 against Philadelphia since the 2013-14 season.
• Danny Green was a member of the Raptors 2019 NBA Championship roster.
Last Time They Played
Date: Aug. 12, 2020
Score: Toronto Raptors 125, Philadelphia 76ers 121
Raptors: Chris Boucher - 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks
76ers: Tobias Harris - 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
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