This snow bound Wednesday 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 upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent, the Toronto Raptors (28-23) who having won 7 of their last 8, are just as hot as the 76ers right now.
Thanks to their five game winning streak the Sixers are riding so high right now that they probably could have flown to Toronto on Tuesday night after their rout of Minnesota without a plane. But make no mistake, the Raptors are not the Minnesota Timberwolves. In fact if we’re totally honest, we unfortunately have to admit that the Sixers have only a slim chance to win this game tonight and extend their streak to six games. Here’s why…
Forget for a second that the Raptors are on a hot streak right now and playing some of their best ball of the year. If you break this game down by personnel, Toronto presents some serious match-up problems for the Sixers. With Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani they have bigs that are tough to handle from multiple locations on the floor. CB4 (29, 9 & 6) and Bargnani (23 & 6) absolutely crushed the Sixers back in early January. As a bonus, Bosh has been virtually unstoppable of late. Over the past six games, the All-Star is averaging 28 points and 14 rebounds per run. Our old nemesis Hedo Turkoglu will be raining threes. Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack provide a nice 1-2 punch at the point and they will shred the ole’ defense of Louis and Willie Green. Rookie DeMar DeRozen is a sick athlete who can get up and down the floor with Calderon or Jack to finish on the break. Last but not least, the Raptors bench is solid and when they’re on, they can be almost dangerous.
Additionally, the Sixers will be missing Allen Iverson again tonight. Over the last five games Iverson’s absence has obviously not really been an issue for the Sixers. However two things distinguish tonight’s game from the previous five. First, the Sixers are NOT playing Minnesota, New Jersey or an injury ravaged NOH team tonight, they’re playing the Raptors, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Thus they probably could use A.I.’s added firepower for this game.
Second, over the course of his career Iverson has just owned Toronto as is evidenced by 29.7 ppg. and 6.2 apg. career averages against the Raptors. Back in early January a very rusty Iverson still managed to hit for 22 points in the Sixers 108-106 loss to Bosh & Co.
Finally, Toronto owns a fierce home court advantage at the Air Canada Center. The Raps have won seven straight at the ACC and 13 of their last 14. During that stretch they’re beating opponents by an average of nearly nine points per night.
One last note…former 76ers Reggie Evans makes his return to the Toronto lineup tonight, so it will be interesting to see if Reggie has a little something extra for his old teammates.
For a little more insight into the Wizards team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Zarar “Arsenalist” Siddiqi from raptorsrepublic.com
Philadunkia : Since the Raptors and 76ers last met, the Dinosaurs have rolling along nicely, going 9-5 and more recently 7-1 in their last eight. What have been a couple of the keys to the Raps recent winning ways?
Zarar “Arsenalist” Siddiqi @ raptorsrepublic.com : Check the schedule. We’ve been playing very bad teams at home and to our credit, have been getting the job done. That’s probably #1. 1a would be our improved defense which ranks Top 10 in the league since mid-December, we’re doing a better of only sending help only when need be and playing to the opposition’s weakness. So for you Philly fans, you better hope your perimeter shooters are on because unless they’re not, the Raptors will have no problem giving them the space to shoot the bricks they’re so good at.
Philadunkia : What moves, if any would you like to see the Raptors make as the trade deadline approaches?
Zarar “Arsenalist” Siddiqi @ raptorsrepublic.com : We need some scoring at the wing spot, more specifically the off-guard. DeRozan’s playing well but going with him as the starting SG in a short-rotation playoff series could be a risk for the Raptors, especially with Turkoglu being inconsistent. There’s also need for a big man to help out with the rebounding but Evans is returning so Colangelo isn’t pressed to make a move there. I’d say Wright’s expiring contract could have some value and his recent good play has only increased it. Oh, to answer your question, we’d like Iggy but don’t want to take Dalembert and don’t want to give up Calderon. Have you heard of this guy Patrick O’Bryant, he’s a beast, trust me, you guys could use him
Two Points of Analysisfrom Zarar “Arsenalist” Siddiqi @ raptorsrepublic.com :
1) Watch out for Bargnani. He had 23/6 and had 3 blocks against you guys last time and is playing even better. He punished the smaller Young in the post last time and we’re going to try to do the same again. The Raptors have also been very good at making teams pay for doubling Bosh, and not just by shooting threes. The cuts we’re making (especially Bargnani) have been rewarded by good post-passing from Bosh and it’s added a new dimension to our already potent offense.
2) The Raptors weakness is preventing dribble penetration and if Lou Williams decides to, he can have a massive impact on this game against Calderon and Jack. Jack will try to come at him and return the favor, but that shouldn’t discourage Williams from stamping his name on the matchup. He’s your biggest advantage tonight, not Iggy.