Deja vu! The Sixers are back in action against Toronto, coming off a 119-109 defeat Wednesday. They’ll immediately get a chance at redemption Friday after playing zero transition defense in their last matchup.
Heading into this night, the Raptors only have one player on their injury report; Otto Porter, who is out for personal reasons. The Sixers injury report is clean, apart from their two two-way players being inactive.
Thus far, the Sixers have been one of the NBA’s biggest disappointment. This team should not be 1-4. On paper, they have the talent to be one of the best teams in the NBA. However, a combination of effort and lack of chemistry sank this team to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers have been the main culprit in most of their loses, but the Raptors deserve credit. They’re a talented team and star Pascal Siakam appears to have taken another jump this season. Through five games he’s averaging a near-triple double; 25.2 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists per game. Slowing him down would be huge in their next matchup, with P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris or Joel Embiid likely taking that defensive assignment.
The Sixers have very few silver linings, but Tyrese Maxey thrived offensively in their last matchup, posting 31 points, five rebounds and six assists. He’s had an inconsistent start to the season, but it would give this team a much-needed boost if he can build off of this performance. These new two-game mini-series type of trips are great for the NBA, as we can see adjustments being made from night to night.
There are two major keys for tonight’s game. The first is running an offense that looks like a NBA offense. Last game they played way too much iso-ball that led to shots being jacked with a second or two on the clock. Toronto has the most length in the NBA, and they’re going to bother Embiid and James Harden at times. This team has too much offensive firepower to look like they looked in their last matchup.
The second major key is attempting to play transition defense of any kind. Most of transition defense is simply effort based, and the team has been flat out embarrassing in this regard this season. Seriously, this can’t keep happening:
The effort on this transition defense by the Sixers is woof. pic.twitter.com/hCStn03n90— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) October 27, 2022
Their last matchup played right into Toronto’s team identity; annoy the opposing team on defense and get easy buckets fast on the other end.
October games typically don’t carry much weight, but the Sixers need to get things back on track ASAP. The first half of their schedule is somewhat light in schedule strength, but they aren’t facing any “bad” teams in the near future. Following this matchup, they’ll have a stretch against the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, and Atlanta Hawks (twice). While most of those teams aren’t juggernauts, I wouldn’t consider them easy W’s either — especially with how bad the Sixers have looked.
The Sixers are still seeking their identity on both ends of the ball a week into the season. For everyone’s sanity, hopefully tonight’s game can wake the team up. The outside noise is only going to get louder as they keep racking up L’s.
When: 7:30 pm ET, Friday, October 28th
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic