This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” – Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games – features tonight’s opponent, the Toronto Raptors a team that stands at 4-7 , but feature two players — DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay — who are “en fuego” right now.
After the jump, I’ll look a Fo’ key items for tonight’s game. Additionally, we’ll get a little more insight into this Toronto team the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Sam Halako at raptorsrepublic.com, as Sam will answer Fo’ questions on his Raptors from us here at Philadunkia.
Here are Fo’ key items I will be watching for tonight from the Sixers end…
1) Get Thad Going: As @therealmikekb wrote in his post earlier today, the Sixers need Thad to be a more consistent scorer if they plan to win any games this year. Yeah, I know that’s not the object in 2013-14, but I don’t want to watch Thad continue ride the roller coaster he’s been on through the first 12 games. Do you?!? Create some TOs and get Thad out on the break. In the half-court, call his number early and often. Get him a couple looks from deep. Whatever X&O moves it takes, get Thad soem buckets early. Most importantly, take the same approach in the 2nd half, so he can build on this game.
2) DeMar DeRozan: Can the Sixers keep the red-hot DeRozan in check? DeRozan had 29 points on Sunday vs. Portland (OT loss) after tying a career high with 37 in last Friday’s loss to Chicago. I have no idea which defensively suspect member of the 76ers is capable of guarding DeRozan, but someone needs to step up. If he hits for 25+ points tonight it could be a long game for the 7-6. That will be especially true if Rudy Gay has it going on tonight for the Raptors as well.
3) Sixers > Raptors (Still??): The 76ers have won seven of the last nine vs Toronto entering tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center. Obviously the Sixers have a new head coach and a significant number of new players. Additionally, the Raptors have improved from last year to a point were some “experts” are predicting they will grab the 8th playoff spot in the East. So I’ll be curious to see if the Sixers still “have the Raptors’ number”.
4) Charity Stripe: For all the mistakes they made and issues they had on Monday night in Dallas, the Sixers still could have won that game if they would have taken care of business at the FT line. They were 3 for 8 from the free-throw line in the final 12 minutes Monday night and finished 12 for 22 for the game. Those missed FTs are devastating in a game that was eventually decided by 3-points. The Sixers need to get to the line again tonight and this time knock down their FTs.
4B) How MCW Looks: As of 3Pmish today, the Twitter-sphere is suddenly loaded with rumors that MCW will return to action tonight. If he does hit the court, I will be interested to see how many minutes coach Brown plays the rookie and I will be watching to see if the foot injury appears to have any impact on MCW’s play.
Q&A with Sam Halako at Raptors Republic:
Philadunkia: Coming off a great finish to last season a number of “experts” were predicting a breakout season for Jonas Valanciunas. It’s early I know, but so far appears to be a roller coaster ride for him in 2013-14. Do you think he can put together a big season?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: Depends on your definition of a big season. The big issue with JV’s development this season will be how Casey allocates minutes. His (mis)use of Jonas has been a source of extreme frustration for Raptor fans early on this season. Casey has him averaging about 27 minutes a game (his playing time has been increasing the last few games) keeping him out of the lineup during crucial times that could be used as learning moments. If he was afforded 35+ minutes, and given the ball a bit more on the low blocks (back to the basket points don’t come easy for this team), he could carve out 16pts and 9rebs a game efficiently.
Philadunkia: Rudy Gay has popped for 30 points twice already and he’s averaging career highs in points (20.6) and boards (7.6). What do you see that has led to Gay’s increased production?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: Way to pick the most polarizing advanced stats guy in the league and quote his per game averages. The short answer to your question is that he’s shooting the ball more, 20 shots a game, plain and simple. While 20.6 and 7.6 look like solid numbers, and his defense and rebounding have been huge for the team, his usage rate 31.5%, true shooting % .466 and effective field goal % .418 frame how painful it is to watch him put up 20 a night. The one thing to be weary about Gay of is that he’s butter in crunch time, and leads the league in game tying and winning shots in the clutch over the last few seasons.
Philadunkia: There appears to be no grey area when discussing Kyle Lowry. NBA scouts and “experts” seem to either love or hate the game/skill set of this Philadelphia native. Where do you stand on Lowry and why?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: He’s the prototypical player from Philly (I irrationally love all players who come out of Villanova and Temple) that plays very hard, takes defense seriously, and has an edge that everyone can appreciate and wants on their team. I like that he doesn’t live very much in the mid-range (I hate my point guards in the mid-range unless they’re Chris Paul), and gets his at the rim or behind the three point arc. That said, the Raptors need to trade him because his solid play is really impeding their ability to tank this season properly.
Philadunkia: The Raptors had a couple days off coming into their match-up with the 76ers. What are you hoping the coaches and team attempted to “fix” over the last two days?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: LoLs…the coaching staff has shown a great inability in managing minutes, calling timeouts, or anything else other than getting them to play defense. Hopefully they attempt to fix the playbook, and figure out a way for the Raptors to move the ball around and get easier looks at the rim. This team needs easier ways to score baskets out side of ISO plays on the perimeter.
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