The Sixers welcome the Toronto Raptors to the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, with the Raptors currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak away from Canada.
Toronto is 21-20 on the season but just 10-11 as the visiting team. In addition, while they have come out on top in both meetings with the Sixers this season, they have dropped four of their last six trips to “The City of Brotherly Love.”
In search of some good news for the Sixers, turn to Tony Wroten’s injury status. Wroten is a game-time decision for this game, but the swelling in his ankle is down and his walking boot is now a thing of the past. Brett Brown had been tinkering a bit with the rotation, playing Wroten by Michael Carter-Williams side more lately.
Philadelphia enters Friday with a less than impressive 8-12 record at home on the season.
With that said, they are coming off a convincing win over the New York Knicks. The Sixers shot the ball extremely well from outside, finishing 15-of-33 from behind the arc. Their success wasn’t predicated on just their three-point shooting however. Philadelphia nearly doubled the Knicks in points in the paint, scoring 50 and allowing a mere 26.
“Anytime we can combine pace and sharing it’s a good thing,” said Brett Brown after his team handled Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks in Madison Square Garden with relative ease.
These two teams last met at Air Canada Centre in Toronto for a mid-December Atlantic Division match-up. At the time, both teams were struggling, the Raptors at 5-games below .500 being the better of the two. Toronto handed the Sixers their 17th loss of the season in large part due to a big night from DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan netted 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting, hauled in 5 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists.
Toronto also handed the Sixers a loss in Philadelphia on November 20 despite a career-night from Spencer Hawes. Hawes shot the ball 10-of-13 from the field for 28 points to go with 10 rebounds and 3 assists.
Again, it was DeMar DeRozan proving to be too much for the Sixers to handle. DeRozan scored 33 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go with 3 rebounds. While shooting the ball rather efficiently, Toronto’s franchise guard did most of his damage from the free-throw line, finishing 10-of-12.
As you can see from the shot chart below, DeRozan is extremely efficient in close. He is still developing a consistent jump shot, but his superstar potential lies in his ability as a slasher and finisher. DeRozan’s quickness and elite athleticism make him a tough cover for anyone. Smaller guards can’t effect his shot attempts, particularly when he decides to play above the rim. Bigger guards simply can’t stay in front of him. His explosive first step is nearly impossible to contain.
DeRozan is averaging 24 points per game in January, six points less than what he is averaging against the Sixers in their previous two meetings. Toronto dealt Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in order to allow DeRozan room to grow and blossom. It’s safe to say that Masai Ujiri made the right decision, and DeRozan is likely to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as a reserve next week.