The Sixers gear up to face a particularly shorthanded opponent. We know you’ve heard that phrase before, as Doc Rivers’ group has now found themselves on both sides of a protocol-addled mismatch this season.
Philadelphia comes into Tuesday’s tilt ranked 6th overall in the Easter Conference, at 17-16, while the Toronto Raptors, rank 10th at 14-16 overall.
Fun facts: if the NBA Draft lottery were today, the Raptors would most likely wind up with the 12th pick in the draft, but possess a 7 percent chance at a top four pick. The Sixers would have the 21st overall pick.
Despite having the second best record in the Atlantic, the Sixers are just 1-6 against division opponents. Known over the last several seasons for having one of the most dominant home court advantages, the 2021-2022 Sixers have actually been better on the road this campaign, going 11-8 away from Wells Fargo and just 6-8 at the crib.
The last time the Philadelphia 76ers hosted the Toronto Raptors, combo-guard from Kentucky, Tyrese Maxey exploded for 33 points, five assists, four rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. He had his patented floater game working as well but ultimately the team lost 115-109 back in November.
Still, it’s performances like that one from the Dallas native which have provided a bit of uncomplicated joy for Sixer fans this season.
Fred Vanvleet drained a huge shot in that game as well. The undrafted legend would be fined by the league because he stuck the dagger triple then broke out his best impression of Sixers’ assistant coach Sam Cassell:
Fred VanVleet for the win and SAM CASSELL BIG BALLS CELE pic.twitter.com/FL6YUXJser— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) November 12, 2021
So the Sixers will be looking for some revenge and that’s a dish best served cold. Brrr.
Just landed in the 6. Sheesh! pic.twitter.com/Z5ePmHdj1O— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) December 27, 2021
The Raptors’ latest “injury” report, (motioning once again to call these things “absence reports” these days) seems pretty extreme... until you remember a team like the Brooklyn Nets just had ten players in health and safety protocols. Ten! These days teams are scrambling to field eight-man rosters by adding players using hardship exceptions.
Tyler Johnson sinks his first bucket as a Sixer! pic.twitter.com/kgvzFlQPLY— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 24, 2021
Nevertheless, no (popular fake Ben Simmons trade target) OG Anunoby, no (electric rookie Toronto recently sneak-tanked for) Scottie Barnes, and no VanVleet on Tuesday.
But the Canadian Dinosaur Group might get Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr. and Khem Birch back, which would be a big lift. It sounds like those players have cleared protocols and are listed as questionable.
This go ahead contested corner three from Trent Jr. in the last match still stings so his return could pose problems for Philly:
The Raps only had four regular roster players available for their last game, so as you might have expected they got stampeded by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 144-99. In case you glossed over that score it’s a 45 point margin, the team’s second-worst in franchise history. So now the Raps two worst losses ever happened when they were a one) a brand-new expansion team and two) competing with a pandemic-depleted roster.
Chris Boucher hurt the Sixers the last time the teams met. The Oregon product had 17 points and six boards in 24 minutes and looks like one of the few rotation players Nick Nurse will have had available for both games against Philly so far.
For the Sixers, Danny Green, Shake Milton, and Andre Drummond have been ruled out, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ben Simmons is out as well. But that means the Sixers will mostly still have their full arsenal available and should be favored in this one.
Tobias Harris has had a rocky start to his year. He’s averaging 18.8 points per game, and 7.6 rebounds. It’s possible he’s doing some kind of four steps forward, three steps back version of progress now with a Covid bout now in the rearview.
Seth Curry has been rock solid and comes in averaging 16.2 points per game on 41 percent from three. Joel Embiid is an absolute terror for opposing defenses. Embiid is scoring 25.5 ppg, 10.9 boards, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks. He’s shooting 38 percent from three and 83 percent from the stripe.
Over the years Nick Nurse led teams have given The Process fits, but without their full rotation (or Marc Gasol) Embiid might make up for lost time at Scotiabank Arena.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors
When: 7:30pm ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic