After the rocky road trip, home cooking did the trip for the Philadelphia 76ers, winners of two straight to maintain a 1.5-game edge over the surging Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference. Tonight, they hit the road again to take on the Raptors in the first of a two-game Tampa set.
The Sixers have a chance to have all hands on deck tonight; Ben Simmons and Shake Milton are both listed as probable to return to the lineup. This is your daily reminder that the starters plus Shake are still undefeated. If Ben plays tonight, both he and Joel Embiid would be coming off career-high scoring games, which I feel confident would be the last time that statistical quirk would happen in their careers together.
Toronto has shaken off a rough start to the season, winning three straight games to get back to .500 on the season and playoff positioning. Recently, the Raptors have begun embracing some lineups with Pascal Siakam at the 5, even starting such a group two games ago against Milwaukee. Those groups would seem to be a good opportunity for Doc to counter with Ben-at-the-5 looks.
What could give the Sixers trouble is the Raptors’ long-ball propensity. Toronto ranks third in the NBA with 40.9 percent of their points coming via 3-pointers (for reference, the Sixers are 29th). The two teams ahead of Toronto in that stat, Utah and Portland, have gone 3-0 against Philadelphia this month. The Sixers didn’t even play particularly bad against Utah earlier this week, but 3 is greater than 2 and you can’t fight math. Toronto has four players who attempt at least five 3-pointers per game; the Sixers have one (Danny Green). Hopefully, Kyle Lowry’s likely absence due to a thumb injury tilts the scales slightly back towards the Sixers’ favor.
Of course, if Embiid is going to drop an efficient 50, I’m not too worried about anything else.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors
When: 7:00pm ET
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Shake Milton - probable (ankle); Ben Simmons - probable (illness)
Toronto: Kyle Lowry - doubtful (thumb)