This 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 (2-9) who have looked as bad as the 76ers early on in this 2010-11 season.
The Sixers return home tonight after a bad 1-4 road swing that ended with a pathetic loss in Cleveland last night and things are not looking good for Philadunkia’s home team. We can honestly say that last night in Cleveland was the first time this year we were not happy with the 76ers effort on the court. Hopefully we will not see another poor effort from the 7-6 down at the WFC tonight. However tonight’s contest is the second half of a road game, followed by a home game back-to-back set and typically in the NBA that scenario spells disaster. So do not be shocked if the Sixers, who will likely be without AI9 again, are simply worn out tonight and look sluggish against the Raptors.
The good news for the Sixers is that tonight is the fourth game in a four game road trip for Toronto and the second contest in a road game, then another road game back-to-back set for the Raptors. Thus Toronto won’t exactly have fresh legs either tonight. The other good news for the Sixers is that this Toronto team is simply bad (especially defensively). They lost by 15 last night to a Wizards squad that was without John Wall. That’s the same Wiz team the Sixers lost to by 1 point in OT with Wall in the lineup.
The bad news for the Sixers is that Toronto has a strong interior game that could us fits. Andrea Bargnani killed the Sixers last year (He averaged 18 ppg. & 5.8 rpg vs. PHL last season.) and is off to another solid start in 2010-11 (19.9 & 4.7 per). In addition to Bargnani, former Sixers Reggie Evans is playing some of the best ball in his career (11.5 rpg.) and has earned a starting role. It should be interesting to see how badly the Philly fan favorite Reggie bulls over the Sixers weak bigs. It’s possible that Evans could grab 30+ boards tonight.
With Leandro Barbosa out, the Sixers can match up with the Raptors perimeter players (DeRozan, Kleiza, Jack and Calderon) so if the Sixers are to win this game tonight, they must keep the Raptors “low post” duo of Evans & Bargnani from having huge nights.
For a little more insight into the Raptors team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Sam Holako from raptorsrepublic.com to answer two questions on the Raptors from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Toronto squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : The Raptors like the Sixers have struggled and stand at 2-9. Do you see any hope for the Raptors this year or is it already over?
Sam Holako@ raptorsrepublic.com :There’s always hope, I mean, if we’re 6-24, I’ll have a different answer for you, but it’s still early in the season. What the Raptors have is a young core of guys who work very hard. They aren’t the most gifted defensive group, but they run around and try to make things happen. You can’t say enough about cats who play like that. Colangelo also has around $11mil in expiring contracts and a $16mil trade exception to upgrade the talent on the roster. Those moves may not materialize a star for the team, but hopefully they will yield us some young/quality talent.
Philadunkia : Former Sixer and 7-6 fan favorite Reggie Evans is starting, hauling 27 mins. a game for you guys and grabbing 11.8 rpg. Talk about how he has played this year for the Raptors.
Sam Holako@ raptorsrepublic.com : I have a love/hate relationship with Reggie. I appreciate how tenacious he is on the boards. Even when Bosh was grabbing 11 boards a game las season, he never went after them like Reggie does. The fact that Bargnani is such a terrible rebounder has forced Jay Triano to play Reggie more minutes than he probably should be played. This really affects the offense since he doesn’t contribute, allowing his man to leave him and double Bargnani (or whoever else might be double-worthy at the time). Ideally we’d like Amir Johnson to start and play 30+ minutes, but he fouls at too high a rate to average anything more than 20 a game. I suspect Reggie gets traded by the deadline since his expiring and rebounding skills could be attractive to a team needing that piece heading into the stretch run.
Two Points of Analysis from Sam Holako@ raptorsrepublic.com :
1) Watch out for Bargnani. Last year under Eddie Jordan, the Sixers frequently used Thaddeus Young in the post to guard him and he simply crushed Young (see above stats). For the Sixers sake, I hope Collins has watched those game tapes and does not try that same stunt.
2) How about some defense…109, 109, 110, 101, 109, 97, 108, 125, 111, 81, 98
The Raptors have kept an appointment to under 100 points three times this season, it’s a bloody shame. Hustle and defense are distinctly different things; actually, that describes Calderon to a T. The Sixers aren’t a high scoring team, so hopefully we don’t make them look like stars.