As we covered yesterday, the Sixers have been more than good on their home floor. In order to make a move on the #6 seed, or maybe just to secure any playoff spot at all, they need to be better on the road. Forget being a good road team, they don't even need to reach that level, but is it too much to ask for them to be average? Somewhere near .500? I don't think so. Either way, Toronto is a team you have to be able to beat, no matter where you're playing.
Here are the game capsules from the first and second meetings against the Raptors, both losses.
As for tonight's game, the Raptors have dropped eight straight games, but that streak may not be completely indicative of the basketball they've been playing. Half of those losses have been tight, tight affairs (sound familiar?). The Raptors have a bunch of injuries that should help the Sixers. Both Reggie Evans and his younger clone, Joey Dorsey, are expected to miss the game tonight. Jose Calderon, who has carved the Sixers up with his three-point shooting in the past, and Leandro Barbosa who drools whenever he sees Lou Williams on the opposing bench, are both questionable. Of course, when a team is as bad as Toronto, the drop off from their front line players to the backups sometimes isn't that severe.
Ed Davis has been very impressive in this 20 minutes/game. He's seeing more time. Jerryd Bayless is coming off an impressive 15/8/11 game in his spot start for Calderon on Sunday, and they've also got Andrea Bargnani, the world's softest center/the world's tallest small forward. He's terrible, but he is a matchup problem for the Sixers, especially when Spencer Hawes is on the floor.
If I'm game planning against the Raptors, I put a smaller guy on Bargnani. I'd rather force him to work around the hoop on offense than let him roam around on the perimeter knocking down threes while a big guy is pulled away from he hoop to ineffectively cover him.
On the offensive end, the Sixers can pretty much pick from a number of mismatches. Jrue shouldn't have too much trouble with Bayless, Iguodala has size on DeRozan, strength on Julian Wrigth, depending on how they decide to play that matchup. Brand should be able to push Amir Johnson around.
Toronto has the second-worst defense in the league, they foul too much, they don't rebound well, they don't force many turnovers, they don't defend the three well. Basically everything you can do poorly on the defensive end, Toronto does worse than poorly. The Sixers should be able to win this game with their offense alone, if they can play a halfway decent defensive game, it shouldn't even be close.
Prediction: PHI 112, TOR 97
Tip is at 7:00 pm, game thread will be up 90 minutes prior.