Eventually, this win one/lose one pattern will be broken. The Sixers only focus against the Raptors is to make damned sure it isn't broken tonight. If the Sixers are going to have a prayer of finishing with better than the #7 seed, they have to beat the bad teams. Toronto has clearly earned the adjective.
Let's get the minute check out of the way for the second night of the back-to-back:
- Turner - 40 minutes (this could be big if Iguodala can't play tonight)
- Hawes - 33 (I'd actually kind of like it if he wasn't available)
- Jrue - 32 (should be good to go, better bounce back)
- Thad - 32
- Brand - 31 (was really surprised he didn't see the floor in the fourth)
- Lou - 30
For the Raptors, DeRozan played 38, Bargnani played 34 and Calderon played 33 in a win over the Bobcats.
The Raptors are currently 19-36 and Dwane Casey has done a fine job in turning their chicken **** roster into an average defense. Unfortunately, they can't score. After a somewhat promising start to the season, Andrea Bargnani has proved to still be Andrea Bargnani.
Calderon remains a dangerous offensive PG, and a sieve on the defensive end. DeRozan isn't exactly having a break-out third season. They have some raw athleticism up front in Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. I'd say their most promising player might be Bayless, but he doesn't get enough burn to make a huge difference.
Basically, the Sixers are almost always going to have a mismatch on the perimeter, whether it's Jrue being guarded by Calderon, or Bayless trying to check Turner. They need to expose those weaknesses. Up front, I wouldn't put it past Bargnani to have a big game with Spence or Brand chasing him around on the perimeter, but they should be able to overcome it without much difficulty. If they show up, they'll win. And they need the win in a big way.
Boston plays the first of a back-to-back against the Spurs in Boston (on Thursday, they're going to meet an angry Bulls team, in Chicago). If all goes according to plan, the Sixers should be tied with the Celts heading into the weekend, but not if they don't take care of business against Toronto.
The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will land at 5.