The Raptors kick off a three game homestand against an all-familiar 76ers team that eliminated them in the first round last season. It’s the first matchup between Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid since Spicy P’s unfortunate elbow in Game six, that resulted in Embiid missing two games in the next round vs Miami and possibly changing that series. Although the real wrath of that will come when Toronto plays in Philly on December 19th.
76ers scope: Philly is a popular pick to not only get out of the second round for the first time since Allen Iverson’s prime in 2001, but to win the whole thing. So starting 0-3 was a little bit of an eyebrow raiser. The Sixers lost in Boston and then hosting Milwaukee to begin the season. Sunday’s loss at home to San Antonio then led Doc Rivers to say this:
Philly responded with a 14 point victory against the Pacers on Monday for their first win of the season. James Harden looks nothing like the bum hamstring version the Raptors saw in the playoffs, averaging 26.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 9.8 apg with 48/37/95 splits over the first four games. Embiid is putting up his typical numbers. Surely the bulk of Nick Nurse’s attention will be on the two all-stars but Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris were X-factors in the playoffs (combining for 39 ppg) and can’t be forgotten about.
Raptors scope: 2-2 through four games seems fair for Toronto. All four contests have been grueling, low scoring affairs with entertaining playoff intensity levels that could have gone either way. The Raptors eight point comeback win in Miami on Monday was the most lopsided result so far and that came down to a Gary Trent Jr. dagger three late.
Siakam has been the swiss army knife to begin the season, averaging 26 points, 10 boards and nearly seven assists. People are noticing.
My question for this game is who starts if Scottie Barnes doesn’t play. Christian Koloko played that role on Monday but it was Precious Achiuwa who had a season-high 34 minutes, resulting in a career-high 22 rebounds. Those type of numbers haven’t been seen for a Raptor since Bismack Biyombo. Precious owns the third highest plus/minus on the team so far (+14), while Koloko is the third worst (-15). That’s not a knock on the rookie, he’s just being asked to do more than expected at this early stage of his career. Does Nurse match up with Embiid size wise with Koloko or does he start Precious? Either way, Achiuwa will probably see the majority of centre minutes again.
Tip-Off: 7:30pm EDT | TV: TSN 1/3/4/5 | Radio: Sportsnet 590
De’Anthony Melton is questionable with muscle tightness in leg. He’s played in all four games for Philly this season.
PG: Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton
SG: James Harden, DeAnthony Melton, Matisse Thybulle, Jaden Springer
SF: Tobias Harris, Danuel House Jr., Furkhan Korkmaz
PF: P.J. Tucker, Georges Niang
C: Joel Embiid, Montrezl Harrell, Paul Reed
Scottie Barnes (ankle) is listed as questionable. Otto Porter Jr. (hamstring) is doubtful, which is a step up from being out for the first first four games. Justin Champagnie, Jeff Dowtin Jr. and Ron Harper Jr. are with the Raptors 905.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: Gary Trent Jr.
SF: O.G. Anunoby, Thaddeus Young
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Juancho Hernangomez
C: Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko, Khem Birch
Philly is favoured by 1 point (interesting?). Over/Under is 216.