This Friday 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 foes, the lowly Toronto Raptors.
We’re going to keep this one short as the Raptors are simply awful and the Sixers three game losing skid will come to a halt tonight.
The Raptors are terrible defensively (opponents hit for 105.8 ppg. – 2nd worst in the NBA), they have nothing to play for in the last week of the season and they are banged up – Sixer killer and Raptors’ leading scorer Andre Bargnani has missed four of the last six games due to a sore right ankle and fellow starter Amir Johnson (ankle) sat out Wednesday’s 104-96 home loss to Cleveland. Both are expected to miss tonight’s game. Back in January the Sixers beat the Raps in Toronto by 13 (and it wasn’t that close) with both Bargnani and Johnson in the lineup.
That should be enough evidence to convince you that the Sixers will win tonight, but in case it is not, take a look at these numbers that all but guarantee a Sixers win tonight…
- The Raptors have lost 8 of their last 9 overall as well as 6 straight on the road.
- The Raps have lost 20 of their last 21 road games
- Vegas has installed the Raps as a 12.5 point dog tonight.
- The Raptors are 4-12 against the spread (ATS) in their last 16 road games.
- The Raps have been blown out by halftime in consecutive losses. They trailed by 24 through two quarters of Tuesday’s 131-118 loss at New York. They also fell behind 60-40 at the break in Wednesday’s defeat to 104-96 defeat by Cleveland.
- The Sixers are 25-12 at home this season and 9-3 in their last 12 at the WFC.
- The Sixers are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 home games.
- The Sixers haven’t lost back-to-back home games since October 27th and 29thwhen our ‘still finding themselves’ Sixers squad lost consecutive home games to Miami and Atlanta.
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 : Any chance the Raptors lay down like dogs tonight for the Sixers? We could really use a W right now.
Sam Holako@ raptorsrepublic.com :There is a very good chance the Raptors will help the Sixers out of their three game funk. In April, the Raptors are giving up 112.5pts/game. If that isn’t proof enough, the Twitter account that represents Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan tweeted this out earlier yesterday.
Now, I say this with a grain of salt, but without Bargnani in the lineup, this is a very different team that crashes the boards, is more defensively intense, and moves the ball aroundmuch more efficiently. Just ask the Magic who lost the series against the Raptors on the weekend.
With so many injuries over the last couple weeks, it’s very hard to predict which team will show up on any given night, but I really think things are winding down rather brutally for Toronto, and they will sink to new levels of shame unseen around these parts over the last few games.
Philadunkia : What’s one thing your really excited about regarding the Toronto Raptors lately that you think bodes well for next year?
Sam Holako@ raptorsrepublic.com : As things stand now, the Raptors have the 3rd draft pick this year (in a weak draft, but whatever). Other than that, we have a couple nice pieces in DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, James Johnson, Jerryd Bayless and Andrea Bargnani. However, there are no alpha dogs in that lot, and none (except for maybe DeRozan in Chicago) would be starters on any of top 10 teams in the league.
I could deal with Bargnani getting paid $10mil/year if Calderon wasn’t on the books for $9mill over the next two. The fact of the matter is that the Raptors will head into the off-season withmore questions than answers. Unless the ownership situation (the Raptors are majority owned by a pension plan) is addressed, and an owner who is committed to putting together a championship team, nothing will change up here. Fml…
Two Points of Analysis from Sam Holako@ raptorsrepublic.com :
1) To maintain the 3rd worst record in professional basketball (it’s making me sick that I’m actually writing this), the Raptors need to lose against the Sixers since the Wizards will almost assuredly lose to the Celtics – who need to keep ahead of the Heat in the Eastern standings.
2) Jerryd Bayless is playing some nice ball, I hope he’s turned the corner, and it’s just not a matter of there being no pressure anymore so he’s loose and grooving. Would be nice to see him hit the gym hard this summer and try to improve some before next season.