The Toronto Raptors have had several days to watch film of their Spurs slapdown, and to integrate four new players into their offensive and defensive schemes. Hopefully that’s sufficient time to learn some lessons, and get ready to apply them against a Philly squad in full-fledged tank mode. The 76ers shocked the NBA by winning their first three games, but have since rejoined Planet Earth, most recently squandering a 19-point in Minnesota.
The 76ers have placed most of the scoring responsibility on the shoulders of two players, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. Turner might be DeMar DeRozan’s doppelganger, so similar are they in appearance and statistics. Hawes is Jonas Valanciunas with a serious shooting skill from long distance.
The Raps need this game, and can get it, if they:
- Attack, in every sense. Philly surrenders over 109 PPG [Points Per Game], which is partly due to having little paint protection. Hawes is their only shot-blocker. If DD gets a step on his man, which he will, and consistently takes the ball to the hoop, Hawes is likely to find himself in foul trouble. Amir Johnson has been rolling very nicely in recent games, and can also hurt this team if Hawes can’t risk fouling. Pushing the ball inside to JV on the low block might also be an idea.
- Make those open 3-balls. Philly has allowed 58 more 3s than it has scored. Terrence Ross will probably start his second straight game, and should have lots of open looks. Let’s hope he can hit some shots in the paint as well.
- Get tight D on Hawes and Turner, and loose on the rest. The Raps catch a break, as Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams remains sidelined with a knee infection. Philly will probably start another rookie swingman, Tony Wroten, who has been more than respectable inside the arc, but is 13 for 67 from beyond it. The rest of their lineup, except for Thaddeus Young, consists of journeymen.
[20-second timeout: There's all manner of chatter about trading Kyle Lowry. Much of this preview may go out the window if he doesn't dress tonight, always an indicator of a trade being close to completion. The deals I've reading about have been risible (Raymond Felton?), so let's hope Kyle is in his familiar spot.]
The Raps simply have no excuse to lose this game. I think they can outslug Philly to the tune of 110-99.
We might see: Tyler Hansbrough, whose shoulder injury is apparently improving…the Raps dominate the boards…significant minutes for Greivis Vasquaz.