The Toronto Raptors will play their final regular season home game of the season on Tuesday as they host the Philadelphia 76ers for a 7:30 tip-off on TSN.
The Raptors have already set the franchise record for wins, home wins, and road wins, and they’re locked in to the two-seed in the Eastern Conference now. The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, so the Raptors can no longer earn the top seed. You can catch up on what the Raptors are watching around the league here, but they have little left to control themselves.
As for the Sixers, well, at least the Raptors should be able to send the Air Canada Centre crowd home happy one final time before the postseason. At 10-70 and with the worst point differential in the league, the Sixers remain the Sixers here at the end of year three, a cause for changes within the organization (more on that shortly). The Raptors don’t generally take an opponent lightly, but with practice time before the start of round one likely limited, they’d be forgiven if they spent Monday preparing for Indiana or Detroit instead of worrying too much about a team they’ve already beat three times in a game that doesn’t mean much.
They’d also be justified in getting some players rest. DeMarre Carroll will probably play and then sit Wednesday, though the opposite is also possible (I’d guess he plays Tuesday simply to give him an extra day of rest if there’s swelling in the knee). Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Luis Scola, and more could all continue to see rest, though again, I’d hazard that if they’re sitting one game, it’s Wednesday. It doesn’t really matter, and if they play, it will be easy to manage their minutes if the Raptors take care of business. The skeleton squad took care of Indiana in a game the Pacers needed to win on Friday – I’m sure they can hold a lead against Philly.
And if they don’t, well, it’s of little consequence.
To help set the stage for the game – well, actually, because RR is a good friend and figured our Sixers-fan pals may need a shoulder – we reached out to Andrew Unterberger of The 700 Level (and Spin). You should read his piece on the change in management from Sam Hinkie to Bryan Colangelo, which we’ll touch on briefly. It’s excellent.
Blake Murphy: Let’s get right at it – thoughts on the 13-page Hinkie manifesto?
Andrew Unterberger: I haven’t read it in full and I’m not sure I ever will. It seems like something that only exists to reinforce what you already believe about Hinkie, and after three years I feel like I sorta get it by now. My only take on it as someone who hasn’t read it is that it bothers me how some people are pointing to it as proof that Hinkie was some anti-social nerd incapable of normal interaction with human adults. Anytime he spoke in interviews or at media appearances, he came off as smart, well-spoken, and likeable. Maybe he knows how best to attract free agents and maybe he doesn’t, but he wasn’t 20-year-old Mark Zuckerberg.
Blake Murphy: Bryan Colangelo is the new GM in Philly. That is…something. His legacies in both Phoenix and Toronto are a bit complicated, more so with the Raptors, as it can be pretty difficult to find the true talent level in a sea of good, bad, and even worse moves. What’s your take on Colangelo getting the gig and what he can do from here?
Andrew Unterberger: Colangelo will have his work cut out for him with fans — Processists, anyway — to say the least. Jerry Colangelo will forever be the short-sighted old dude who didn’t get what Hinkie was trying to do, and Bryan will always be his idiot son who got the job because Dad said so. Personally, I’m about half-and-half on BC. I don’t think he’s such a reactionary that he’ll instantly trade all our future assets for Brook Lopez and Danilo Gallinari, and his record with the draft — Bargnani aside — has proven pretty solid. But memories of the Rudy Gay deal definitely trouble me, as does the sort of implied imperative across the Sixers franchise to Get Respectable Now. I’d like to think the Sixers have enough draft picks, young prospects, and cap space that we’re all but childproofed against Colangelo Jr. getting frisky in his first couple months on the job. But I’d also rather not test it.
Blake Murphy: What’s the best job your dad ever helped you get?
Andrew Unterberger:I can remember at least one job my mother got me, but none that my father did. If I actually spent a summer as a paralegal at my dad’s firm and just spaced on the memory, sorry Dad.
Blake Murphy: Give me the best highlight for you from the Sixers season. I know it’s been a tough one, but there’s gotta be something keeping you going.
Andrew Unterberger: Sadly, the easy highlight of the Sixers season was a game they still lost — the furious, Isaiah Canaan-led comeback against the Warriors at home where they tied it with a half-minute to go. Then they telegraphed the world’s least-effective double-team on Stephen Curry, Draymond Green found Harrison Barnes in the corner, and we quickly became another notch in the Warriors’ bedpost. But the fact that one of the two worst teams in NBA history could sniff a W against one of the two best made it a triumph of some sort nonetheless.
Blake Murphy: Room on the Raptors bandwagon for the playoffs. Want a spot?
Andrew Unterberger:Depends, will Drake be calling the home games for NBA TV?
It’s unclear if Carroll will play, but that’s my guess based on logic and context clues. You can read more about Carroll’s return and what it could mean for the Raptors here.
Delon Wright (hip pointer) sat Sunday and could be on the shelf again – if he is, that would probably preclude Lowry from resting. As it stands, we’re unclear about Wright and about rest for anyone else.
Really, though, we’re all just on Bruno Caboclo watch at this point. I did a deep-dive breaking down Caboclo’s development in Year Two for Sportsnet yesterday.
PG: Lowry, Cory Joseph, Wright
SG: Norman Powell, T.J. Ross
SF: DeRozan, Carroll, James Johnson, Caboclo
PF: Scola, Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Lucas Nogueira
Isaiah Canaan (awful), Joel Embiid (cursed), and Jahlil Okafor (still lost somewhere on defense) are all done for the season. Carl Landry, nickname Carl Landry, is questionable with a back injury, and Richaun Holmes is doubtful with an Achilles issue. That leaves what’s left of the rotation looking something like this:
PG: Ish Smith, Calves McConnell, K-Butter
SG: Sauce Castillo
SF: Asset #RC33, Hollis Thompson
PF: Jermai Grant, Christian Wood
C: Nerlens Noel, Landry, Elton Brand
Good luck, Colangelo.
The Raptors are 10.5-point favorites, which is about a large as a spread can get in a game where the favorite might rest players.