The Toronto Raptors currently have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 23-41. Over their past eight games (2-6), they have allowed an average of 112.9 points per game. As disappointed as we've been in the Sixers at certain points this season, they haven't come close to the level of under-achievement Toronto has experienced. That being said, this game has me very, very worried.
Typically, I would use this space to ponder how a team with Chris Bosh down low, Jose Calderon at the point, Shawn Marion on the wing and plenty of three-point shooters surrounding them could suck this bad, but this time I'm going to refrain from ripping the opposing team. That plan hasn't worked out to well recently. Instead, I'm going to talk about what I see as legitimate match-up problems for the Sixers, and try to figure out how they're going to be able to fix things on the defensive end.
The first, and largest problem is Chris Bosh. He's too big and too strong for Thad to handle on his own. I have a feeling Dalembert will be playing Bosh, which is fine if he works on the low blocks, not so fine if he's facing up against Sammy. Still, this is a matchup the Haitian will have to handle on his own for the minutes he's actually in the game. Toronto has too many weapons on the outside for them to double down on Bosh. If they feel compelled to double, I'd double with Iggy and force Marion to be the guy who takes threes for Toronto.
Problem number one leads us right into problem number two. If Sammy is guarding Bosh, that means Thad is tasked with a 7-foot center who's currently shooting better than 40% from three. This actually isn't too much of a mismatch, considering Bargnani's perimeter-oriented game, and his fear of rebounds (or really dirty work of any kind). This should be a comical matchup to watch, Bargnani, a starting center, averages 6.2 rebounds/36 minutes, while Thad, a starting power forward, averages 5.1 per 36. They can take turns failing to box each other out, then not going after the ball off the glass.
If you're wondering which shooters the Sixers need to say at home on, here you go:
- Kapono: 43.3%
- Bargnani: 40.3%
- Anthony Parker: 40.1%
- Calderon: 39.7%
If you're looking for advantages, I'd point directly at Andre Miller. Calderon is one of the best offensive points in the league, but he doesn't have a prayer at slowing Andre down off the dribble, nor does he have the strength to deal with him in the lane. I'm expecting a big game out of him. Thad should also have the quickness advantage on Bosh (or Bargnani), but that's the case virtually every time the Sixers take the floor and they rarely capitalize on it.
Here's my arbitrary key to the game: If Willie's mised field goals plus Lou's missed field goals is less than the total number of points for Chris Bosh, the Sixers will win.
The tip is at 7pm, I'll be here, live, so please join me for the in-game discussion. Hopefully this schizophrenic team can pick themselves up and make us believers again.
UPDATE: Bargnani is questionable with the flu.