December 10, 2023

What to watch as the 76ers look to split the mini-series with Raptors


Photo by Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Game one didn’t go exactly as planned, but the 20-11 Philadelphia 76ers will wrap up their first-half road schedule Tuesday night as they play the 16-15 Raptors in Tampa Bay.

Here’s what to look out for in tonight’s game as the Sixers will look to snap a four-game road losing skid:

Hoping to turn this around and back to normal

Though the Raptors defended Joel Embiid well Sunday, holding him to a 6-for-20 shooting night in a 110-103 Toronto win, the main reason the Sixers lost that game was by missing good shots. 

“Whenever you play them, they trap a lot,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “They did that. I thought Joel overall handled the traps perfectly. We ended up getting great shots, just couldn’t make any tonight. … He said walking off to me, ‘I had a hundred good looks tonight, the ball just wouldn’t go in.’ 

“There’s nights like that. I thought a lot of our guys had great looks tonight; the problem was they weren’t going in. And I thought the misses started mounting up as far as how we were handling it, so we’ve got to do a better job of handling misses — because that’s going to happen in a game.” 

This is true as the Sixers were four for 21 on “wide open” three-pointers “wide open” by If the Raptors continue to aggressively double team Embiid and ask other players to beat them, the Sixers will likely need a lot better performances from players like Tobias Harris and Seth Curry. 

Will Lowery make his return?

The Sixers have close to a clean injury report, somehow, with Curry the only name listed besides two-way players Paul Reed and Rayjon Tucker, who have been in the G League bubble with the 7-1 Delaware Blue Coats. Curry is probable with a left ankle sprain.

Kyle Lowry, a name to keep in mind for the Sixers before the trade deadline, is questionable because of a sprained left thumb. He’s missed Toronto’s last three games, all victories. In fact, the Raptors are 16-0 in their past 16 games without Lowry. It’s a quit a strange stat, especially given that Toronto’s net rating has been better with Lowry on the floor than off it during the last three seasons, per Cleaning the Glass.

All Star reserves announcements

The seven All-Star reserves from each conference will be announced at 7:00 P.M. E.S.T. on TNT.

Ben Simmons has boosted his case by averaging 22.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.8 steals over an impressive last eight games.

Harris has posted 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this season. His efficiency (51.3% from the floor, 40.3% on three-pointers, 89.4% at the foul line) has been especially impressive. He acknowledged in a recent interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick that it pisses him off that he’s not considered a third star for the Sixers. And in my opinion, he definitely is.

The Eastern Conference’s field of potential All-Stars is competitive and Embiid, who’s been named an All Star starter, has played at an MVP level, so perhaps some head coaches will think three Sixers All-Stars is too many. We’ll know one way or the other before tip-off. 

Tonight’s essentials:

  • When: 7:30 P.M. E.S.T.
  • Where: Amalie Arena  
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
  • Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram

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