Toronto Raptors Philadelphia 76ers November 17, 2010

Fortunately for my sanity, I missed the game. However, there was a point last night where I glanced up at the TV, saw the Wizards up 79-59, did a double take, then proceeded to drink myself blind while some suit at the bar was shouting the most obscene things at the TV I’ve ever heard; turns out he was watching the Leafs, but whatever. How the f&@% do you lose to a Wizards team missing their best player? How the f&@% do you get out-rebounded by the worst rebounding team in the league?

I don’t have any answers to questions about the Raptors, seriously. This team beats Orlando on Friday, competes hard against Miami on Saturday, then they get thumped by Washington on Tuesday. Indulge me for a second: so I design software at work for a living. After interviewing clients to get what their pain points are, one of the reoccurring themes was predictability of cost. They want to know what they will be paying, for a certain amount of product over the course of the year.

I want the exact same thing from the Raptors, I want to know what I’m getting out of them every night; right now I don’t. We don’t know which incarnation of this team will show up from night to night. Really makes it hard to put other aspects of my life on hold to watch games where we lose to bad teams because of questionable things. On the flip-side, it does us a huge disservice when they beat a team like the Magic on the road, since achieving that usually means that everyone is carrying their own weight, and making the right decisions on every play. This team obviously isn’t in that vicinity, so it gets our hopes up.

One positive from last night is that, and I’m just putting this out there, but I think Weems has moved into the starting role. Kleiza did well off the bench, and I think his offense is better suited coming off the bench, and frankly, with Barbosa out, it is needed there more. A wing Jack/DeRozan/Weems makes me much more excited.

Sigh…

I had a chance to speak with Carey Smith, of Philadunkia.com about the Sixers and the matchup tonight:

Andre Iguadala hasn’t started the season as expected, with his numbers pretty much down across the board. This hasn’t stopped teams from expressing interest in him. If he gets moved, what will the Sixers look for him in return?
Thorn and Stefanski are going to ask for the world in return for AI9, because in my opinion they highly over rate his potential. Iguodala is a very athletic, very well rounded and overall very good player, but he’s a second or some believe a third banana on a title contending team. He is not, nor will he ever be a star as the Sixers front office believed he could become. If they deal him (which I don’t want the Sixers to do), I hope they go after cap space and a young big who can grab some boards.

It took a couple seasons, but Elton Brand seems to be getting back on track. He was having trouble meshing with the athletic wings on the team, what has changed?
What has changed about Brand is that he lighter, moving better and is in much better shape. This past summer was the first time since Brand has been in a Sixers uniform that he didn’t spend the off season rehabbing from a serious injury. He was able to concentrate on getting ready for the season from a conditioning stand point and work on his actual basketball skills. All that work seems to be paying off.

I was super high on Jrue Holliday coming into the season, and it seems as though he worked on his game quite a bit this summer. What is the kid doing right?
To be honest, Jrue is having a wildly inconsistent year so far in 2010-11. There have been some All-Star caliber games from him and some flat out bombs like the one against SAS the other night. You can read more about in a post by Tom Sunnegren.

How do you match-up with the Raptors? What will be the strategy for dealing with Bargnani and DeRozan?
Outside of our usual interior weaknesses, I believe the Sixers matchup well against the Raptors. I don’t see DeRozan, Kleiza or the Jack/Calderon PG combo as much of an issue for the Sixers to handle. As is typical of the Sixers this season, they’re going to get killed in the paint vs. the Raptors. Former Sixers Reggie Evans may have a career night vs. our weak frontline and Andrea Bargnani will do whatever he wants against the Sixers bigs. If we can slow Bargnani down, even just a little (he averaged 18 ppg. & 5.8 rpg vs. PHl last season) we should win this game.

Injuries

Toronto
Ed Davis – Out
Leandro Barbosa – Shoulder, Out
Linas Kleiza – Achilles, Should Play

Philadelphia
Andre Iguodala – Achilles, Should Play

Match-ups

PG – Jack vs Holiday
Jrue just turned 20 this summer, so he obviously has the experience to take it to Jack/Calderon all night. He’s also a mediocre shooter, who’s quick enough to get into the paint; so expect him to go 8-13 from the perimeter tonight, and 6-9 at the rim. He’s bigger, stronger, and faster then Jack and plays better defense. The Sixers are 11th in the league in assists, meaning they do a great job of moving the ball around; doesn’t bode well for a Raptor defense that doesn’t rotate or play good defense. At the head of the beast is Holiday who may not have great court vision, but does a good job of finding the right guy for the shot (if that made any sense at all). Call me out on this, but on the second night of a back-to-back, I have zero expectations tonight…zero. Jrue has a career game…fml
Edge: Holiday

SG – DeRozan vs Turner
It wasn’t that he had a bad night per say, but he took 9 shots. To put that in perspective, Jack took 14 and Kleiza took 11 off the bench. The kids doing a great job the last couple games, and you can’t get him the ball? Seriously? DeMar needs to keep Turner on the perimeter and tempt him with open-ish shots. Turner doesn’t have the athleticism to beat DeRozan off the dribble, or through the air, so he will pick his spots since he sees the floor so well. Honestly, DeRozan should win this match-up, the kid is still finding his way, and is in the zonew. I wont accept any other result.
Edge: DeRozan

SF – Weems vs Iguodala
AI is injured, and was only able to muster 19 minutes against the Spurs on the weekend (he still managed to put up 10pts 8rebs though). Achilles injuries affect movement, movement affects ability to do stuff, and if you can’t do stuff, the guy on the other side of the court should win the match-up. If Andre can’t go, expect to see more of Young and Nocioni. If Andre does go, and is injured, Money better drop 20pts, that’s all I got.
Edge: Weems

PF – Evans vs Brand
I’m totally biased towards Brand, he’s been one of my favourites since Duke (actually, I think he’s the only Duke player I’ve ever really liked). He’s made some nice progress since that ridiculous injury he suffered when he signed with Philly, but hasn’t regained his explosiveness that he lost as a result. Evans isn’t an explosive guy either, but has been playing smart, and controlling the boards the best he can without much support. One thing to note is that Brand doesn’t play big in the paint anymore, he’s a mid-ranger who doesn’t shoot a very high percentage. Evans can get at him and make him work hard on the glass, and for his points. Wont be an exciting match-up.
Edge: Even

C – Bargnani vs Hawes
Last night in Washington was Bargnani’s worse game of the season, which happens. I seriously don’t think I need to say too much about this match-up. Hawes doesn’t like to initiate contact in the paint, has some nice post moves but prefers to jack shots from the perimeter. After an embarassing performance against McGee and Blatche, Il Mago needs to throw down tonight.
Edge: Bargnani

Keys to the Game

How about some defense?
109, 109, 110, 101, 109, 97, 108, 125, 111, 81, 98
The Raptors have kept an appointment to under 100 points three times this season, it’s a bloody shame. Hustle and defense are distinctly different things; actually, that describes Calderon to a T. The Sixers aren’t a high scoring team, so hopefully we don’t make them look like stars.

Bench Performance
The Sixers have a nice mix of crafty players and athletes on their bench, that could really be a thorn in the Raptors side. Thaddeus Young seems to always come out to play against us, and always makes me nervous he’s going to have a big night. I’d like to see Calderon regain some composure after last night’s shit show, and lead this squad. I also look forward to Kleiza’s scoring from the bench, which is a perfect spot for the guy.

Show some pride
You lost a rough one last night, and have a chance to split this four-game road swing 2-2 with a win tonight against an equally brutal Sixers team. What’s at stake tonight is being the worst team in the East; but who knows, maybe having the most ping-pong balls is a good thing.

The Line

The gamblers have the Sixers as 4 point favourites with an over/under of 207.5.

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