With half the roster out to injury, going up against another playoff team that’s gearing up for a run is probably asking for trouble. The Toronto Raptors came into this evenings match up as the 3rd seed in the eastern conference, currently tied with the Washington Wizards in the W-L column. The Philadelphia 76ers, on the other hand, came in as 5th in the ‘tankathon’ standings, currently in a “battle” with a few teams in the 4-7 range.
Of course, the game went predictably. The Sixers stayed competitive in the first quarter (managed to actually take a 1 point lead). They began to trail off in the 2nd as the opposing team’s talent and depth begins to take over. The Raptors then take a commanding lead that the Sixers can’t overcome in the 2nd half, despite a series of runs that keep it relatively “close”. Scene.
A few takeaways:
- Prior to the game, Dario Saric was put on a 24 minute “guideline” due to a sore heel. His visible fatigue (less lift on his already flat shot) combined with his verbal confirmation leads credence drawing back his minutes. He’s affirmed that he wants to play all 82 games, which is admirable. But if he’s struggling and hurt, I’m not sure how smart that is. Tonight he struggled in the first half and got most of his production in the 3rd/4th quarter. Nothing seemed easy, however.
- Nik Stauskas getting run as point guard has slowly changed my perception of his long-term prospects on this team. His shooting and playmaking as a secondary ball-handler can be very valuable. Just imagine sliding him into a lineup with Ben Simmons as a combo guard. (sauce dab)
- Right now the Sixers don’t have much answer in the paint. I like Richaun Holmes but he doesn’t have the body to handle bigger NBA centers. Shawn Long, bless him, is also somewhat out of his element when it comes to bodying up more experienced players. Neither guy provide rim protection in the general sense, either (and sort of chase blocks too). While the ability of both guys to stretch out to the perimeter on offense is nice, what they give up on the defense and on the boards negates it most of the time.
- Alex Poythress got some action tonight. Much like many of the “handshake and play” Sixers, he wasn’t well versed on the finer points of Brett’s system. There were noticeable times where he rotated to incorrect spots, for example. But, all things considered, it was a pretty good debut as he made some shots in the paint and grabbed a few boards. (Couldn’t hit anything beyond the arc though.)
- Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was great tonight. It’s still surprising that he’s as good as he is this early. In fact, you could see his development over the course of the game. Tonight he began the night with a wet jumper and then began getting points with a variety of moves in transition and cuts to the basket in half court sets. As he got into the paint more, he started getting to the FT line. More and more, I’m beginning to feel that he’s a “core” piece if he continues to grow. Not bad for a late first round pick, eh?
- Serge Ibaka did a lot of damage for the Raptors tonight on both ends of the court. DeMar DeRozan decided to carry the Raptors a bit in the 2nd half and ‘got his’, after being relatively quiet in the first.
- Sixers next play on Tuesday, April 4 vs the Nets