Joel Embiid and the Sixers are down in Tampa Bay as they prepare for the first game of a two-game series against the Toronto Raptors.
Philadelphia still possesses the top seed in the Eastern Conference while Toronto is sixth. Tonight’s matchup is another prime opportunity for the Sixers to extend their conference lead.
Despite their recent success, the wheels have somewhat fallen off the wagon for the Raptors this season. Despite going 7-3 over their last ten games, they’re sat at just 15-15 on the season.
While they’re still in prime position to crack the postseason this year, whispers have started to emerge about the team possibly selling off someone like Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline.
The Sixers have already beaten Toronto once this season, winning by 100-93 behind Embiid’s 29 points. A sharp contrast from last year, where Toronto’s stifling defense routinely gave the Sixers big man trouble.
A big reason for that is due to the departure of center Marc Gasol (who is now with the Lakers). Without him, Toronto’s rebounding has plummeted all the way down to dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Considering just how active a guy like Embiid is on the offensive and defensive glass, the Raptors undersized frontcourt could be in for a long night down low.
While the odds of Embiid dominating down low once more seem high, the Sixers could end up playing a tad shorthanded tonight. Ben Simmons (illness) and Shake Milton (ankle) are both currently listed as “probable.” They could end up missing the game should their participation in pregame warmups not go according to plan.
Suppose Simmons is, in fact, forced to miss a third consecutive game. In that case, the Sixers could have some trouble keeping up with Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam on the defensive side of things.
Milton missing another game would also drastically lower the Sixers’ chances of getting above-average bench production tonight. The team’s reserve unit has looked pretty disastrous since Shake went down with an ankle injury.
Tip-off tonight is at 7:00 PM ET, and you can watch on NBC Sports Philadelphia Sports or NBA League Pass. You can also listen live as always at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.
Playing on the road is never an easy task for Philadelphia. The Raptors have also historically been a thorn in the Sixers’ side.
However, considering just how undersized Toronto is at center, this is yet another game where Joel Embiid should be able to impose his will and lead his team to victory.
David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.