Without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon available, the Raptors strike me as a dangerous team. The absolute last thing the Sixers can afford is to drop their fourth game in a row, this time to a very bad team, on their home floor. They need to turn it around tonight.
In the absence of their slow Europeans, the Raptors are probably going to put a scary-athletic, small lineup on the floor. I'm guessing the backcourt will be Bayless and DeRozan, then up front they'll probably go with James Johnson, Ed Davis and Reggie Evans. There isn't a whole lot of offensive skill in that group, in fact there's barely any. There isn't a shooter among them, either. Bayless is the closest to average from three (35.1% since joining TOR), the rest are pretty much miserable from deep. What they lack in actual skills, they have the potential to make up for with energy. They're young (outside of Reggie) and they can really get up and down the floor.
DeRozan, Barbosa (listed as questionable for the game) and Bayless are all capable of getting hot and beating you with penetration. I'd say tonight is a perfect opportunity to pack the lane considering the complete lack of shooting for TO. Up front, they've got one solid shotblocker in Amir Johnson (also listed as questionable), a rebounding machine in Evans and a guy who does a little of both in Ed Davis. James Johnson is a pretty bad small forward and shouldn't really occupy Andre Iguodala's attention. I'd probably go with Iguodala on DeRozan and tell him to give him some space, encourage him to shoot. DeRozan takes a ton of long twos (5 per game @ 40%), let him settle for those and hopefully get him to chuck up threes as well (he's 10.9% from three).
Jrue needs to keep Bayless in front of him, and keep tabs on him when he's off the ball. Everyone needs to work to keep the Raptors off the offensive glass, because they will be missing plenty of shots. Face guard Evans, if you have to.
On the offensive end, Jrue needs to be prepared for the Reggie Evans suicide trap at midcourt. It's going to come at some point, keep your composure and get rid of the ball quickly, let the rest of the team play four on three while Evans is recovering to the lane. Jrue has a tendency to see the double coming and try to keep his dribble through it instead of making a quick pass out of it.
Three things I want to see tonight:
- A double-digit win.
- A strong start in the first and third quarters.
- A good shooting night for Jrue
Prediction: I abstain.
The tip is at 7pm, game thread will land 90 minutes prior.