Home. Sweet. Home.
The Philadelphia 76ers return home to South Philadelphia, tonight, after a four-game road trip in Denver and California to face the Toronto Raptors. The Sixers lost to the Denver Nuggets, then defeated the LeBron-less Lakers and ended the Golden State Warriors 11-game win streak before losing to the Sacramento Kings in a game that was just too easy to predict.
I may or may not have put money on the Kings on Saturday. (Checks bank account). Oh, no, that definitely happened. Listen, I love the Sixers, but I also love fat stacks of cash.
Back in December, the Sixers defeated the Raptors 126-101. Sure, it was a win against the best team in the Eastern Conference (at the time), but the Raptors were sans-Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is healthy and playing, tonight. Kyle Lowry is doubtful tonight with a sore back, and Jonas Valanciunas is also doubtful with a thumb injury. Toronto has lost three of their last five games (Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, and Milwaukee Bucks), but they’re still the 2-seed in the East.
After losing to the Bucks 105-92 last Thursday, the Raptors rebounded to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 121-103. Leonard led the team with 18 points and five rebounds, and four other Raptors scored double figures (Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, C.J. Miles, and Delon Wright).
The Sixers have been playing very well in case you haven’t noticed, and I’m sure you all have. During this rough 12-game stretch that has been documented, the Sixers are 5-3 with four games to go averaging an incredible 118.5 PPG. They’ve gone over 120 points in four of those games. They’ve won seven of their last ten and sit in a tie for third in the East with the Boston Celtics who have won nine of their last ten (gulp!) and the Pacers who are 5-5 in their last ten.
Saturday night’s loss to the Kings was a rough one. Forward Wilson Chandler – who has had a sneaky good month of January shooting .422 from three in 12 games – was out as well as the team’s third leading scorer, JJ Redick. Chandler is still out according to the latest projected starting lineup. (This will be confirmed later as information comes in.) Redick will be a game-time decision.
Even in defeat, Ben Simmons had 22 points, 8 rebounds, and four assists last night following his 26/8/6 against Golden State the Thursday prior. Embiid had 26 and 20 against the Warriors and 29/17 against Sacramento. Is it possible that Jimmy Butler is in his element, now … finally? Here’s Jimmy’s last nine games: 21.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.8 APG, .515 FG%, plus/minus +57.
The question that needs to be asked is how well Simmons will play with a healthy Kawhi Leonard likely guarding him. He hasn’t done well in two games, and that’s the nicest way I can put that. On October 30th, Simmons had a triple double of 11 points, 10 assists … and 11 turnovers in a 129-112 loss. A month later, the newly named All-Star had eight points, 11 assists, and seven turnovers with Kawhi on the floor.
Ben cannot be a turnover machine against Kawhi, again. It’s not a good look, youngster.
Game time is 8pm, tonight, and for a quick Q&A leading into tonight’s game, enjoy Adam Aaronson’s piece with Anthony Doyle of Raptors Republic.
Who: Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers
When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Vegas: Sixers -2.5, O/U 229