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 who are currently holding down the 4th spot in the East despite posting a 2-3 record in their last 5 games.
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) Keep DeMar DeRozan in Check: Can the Sixers keep the red-hot DeRozan (21.8 ppg.) under 30 points? On Wednesday night DeRozen went off for 40 points (15-22 shooting) against the Dallas Mavericks. In the two Toronto victories over the Sixers this season DeRozan is averaging 30 ppg. on 50% shooting from the field. Those are disturbing stats. I have no idea how they are going to do it, but a 25+ point night by DeRozen would doom the Sixers tonight. That’s a bad thing…right?
2) Evan Turner or “The Enigma”: Which persona will be on display tonight at the WFC? After a 3-game stretch during which “The Enigma” averaged only 10 ppg. and more alarming, only 10 FGAs per night, Turner returned to 2013-14 form and exploded on the Knicks for a career high 34 points (13-22 shooting) and 11 boards. I’m not saying he needs to score 30 again tonight, but I’d like to see an efficient 20 points tonight and not a return to the ill-advised shot taking “The Enigma” or the MIA version of “The Enigma”.
3) Clean the Glass: The Sixers plus-15 rebounding advantage over the NYK was the squad’s third-largest of the season and would like to see Brown and company have another good night on the boards. That means Hawes, Thad, Turner and Dedmon need to ebound well.
4) Thad & MCW: I am looking for both of these players to have a solid game tonight. After a 5 game stretch in which Thad was…how do I say this nicely…not his 2013-14 self (11 ppg.), #21 scored 19 points vs. the Wizards and 18 points on Wednesday against the Knicks. Thad was 15-38 (42.8%) shooting the ball over those two games. I’d like to see Thad keep rolling and and that seems likely as he is averaging 18.7 points while shooting 60.0 percent over his last six match-ups with Toronto. MCW on the other hand needs to get rolling. On Wednesday the rookie posted 19 points on 5 for 18 shooting and is shooting 34.8 percent (24 for 69) his last four games. Tonight I’d like to see MCW take that extra dribble (or two) and finish strong at the rim instead of lofting up the floaters as he has been doing frequently of late.
Q&A with Sam Halako at Raptors Republic:
Philadunkia: Obviously DeRozen has killed the Sixers this year and overall is having a great season. Can you give us some insights into why his play has jumped up a level in 2013-14?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: We’ve been witness to DeRozan improving year since his rookie season because of his work ethic. The kid works hard, has a great attitude, takes direction and is always in the gym. He was playing great while Gay was here, and since Gay’s departure, has seen his usage increase. We always knew he could score, but what’s been a pleasant surprise has been his playmaking and rebounding; totally bringing an all-around effort the court. Now, that said, his efficiency leaves a lot to be disired (43% FG% / 30% 3FG% / 78$ FT%) but it could be worse.
Philadunkia: After a streak where they won 8 of 10 and seemed to be headed for a huge run, the Raps are 2-3 in their last 5 games. What are a few of the issues that have plagued the Raps over the last 5 games?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: It’s awesome how quickly people forget how brutal the East is. As good as the Raptors have played over the last 6 weeks, they are only 21-20. All that has happened is that they have settled closer to the team they are 21-20, and not the one that went 13-5 (befor 2-3 in the last 5) after the Gay trade, which was unsustainable for this team.
Philadunkia: We don’t get to see Terrence Ross play a ton, so what are your thoughts on him now being labeled as great defensive player?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: I don’t know about a great defensive player, but he plays hard. Being young, he’s prone to lapses, but with his size and athleticism, there is no reason he shouldn’t be a solid defensive force at the shooting guard. That’s the key though, he doesn’t have the size, or rebound well enough to be of any use there. His shooting, though, has improved to the point where spreads the floor nicely, and is in fact the reason he was drafted in the first place (the Raptors were desperate for perimeter shooting at the time).
Philadunkia: Do you miss Rudy Gay (very sarcastic here)?
Sam Halako at Raptors Republic: Full disclosure: I’m a Rudy Gay fan; you could even say I have a man-crush on him. It was the right decision to trade him, and the haul we got back (Salmons, Patterson, and Vasquez) have changed the makeup of this team (e.g. they average 30 more passes a game more after the trade), but I dunno…he took a lot of slack from nerds who didn’t bother to look up from their spread sheets when he was jacking bad shots, but now that he’s playing Odin level efficiency for a mid-range player…nothing.
Thanks to Sam for his time and answers.
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