Preview 76ers-Raptors: Nerlens Noel Will Not Play


The Philadelphia 76ers (0-6) enter the Air Canada Centre, in Toronto, Ontario to face off with the Toronto Raptors (5-1, 1st in Atlantic Division), tonight at 7:00 PM.

This again will be another uphill climb for the Sixers as the Raptors are off to a fantastic start. Toronto is coming off a 48-34 season and is projected to win close to the same amount of games this year. With head coach Dwane Casey at the helm, Toronto is poised to battle in the Eastern Conference and reach the post-season for the second time in a row. This year they can make a run at the Eastern Finals.

Friday night, the Raptors blasted the Washington Wizards 103-84.

Toronto’s Shooting Guard DeMar DeRozan, a 20 plus point per game performer, is hype: “It means a lot . . . every new thing we accomplish definitely means a lot because we’re leaving that mark forever. Nobody can take that away.”

In their last outing DeRozan dropped 25 points while small forward, and former Slam Dunk Contest Champion, Terrence Ross finished with 18. Former Villanova star Kyle Lowry has been electrifying and rock solid thus far. Friday he collected 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. This was his sixth career triple-double in the League. Led by Lowry, Toronto does not turn the ball over and remain very low in this category.

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Transition defense, an issue for the 76ers this year will be paramount as the Toronto scores just over 105 points per game, while only allowing 97 points per game. Making this even more difficult, Nerlens Noel won’t be playing tonight and neither will forward Malcolm Thomas, who may need knee surgery.

The Raptors are dangerous: they progress each game and can maintain effort regardless of who is in the game. Toronto also has sustained the pace of last year without implementing any upgrades. Raptor guards quite frequently have field days versus the 76ers and the Raptors may activate two character players filled with potential in power forward Amir Johnson and Center Jonas Valanciunas. Last year Toronto swept Philly going 4-0, the first in team history.

Statistically, in terms of scoring offense and points allowed, Philly does not match up well. However, size and rotation at Center is an issue for Toronto. But even here, the 76ers will be at an even bigger disadvantage with Nerlens Noel sidelined again. Noel missed Friday’s 118-115 loss to Chicago.

For head coach Brett Brown, that stretch of resiliency represents a source of pride. “We ask our guys often, ‘What would you want other teams to say about you?'” Brown said. “We want respect. We want to work hard. We want to have tenacity and a spirit that reflects the city and reflects a bunch of young guys.”

Tony Wroten leads the 76ers with 22.5 points per game.

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Sixers are the only remaining win-less NBA teams.

Toronto is an ice-hockey town. This hasn’t stopped Canadian rapper Drake to turn it into NBA city. So far, the “ambassador’s” plan may be working.

Next: 76ers Forward Malcolm Thomas Needs Knee Surgery