PREVIEW: Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors | October 28th

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Paul Reed
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) drives past Philadelphia 76ers forward Danuel House Jr. (25) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

After losing the first of two games on the road against the Toronto Raptors (3-2), the Philadelphia 76ers (1-4) will look to leave Canada with an even split. That will be particularly difficult, with MVP runner-up Joel Embiid listed as questionable (R. Knee injury recovery) for tonight’s game.

Fortunately, this seems to only be a precautionary measure, especially as the team travels to Chicago tomorrow to face the Bulls. Here’s what to look out for in tonight’s game (at least, if you’re flipping channels during World Series commercial breaks).

Game Info

When: Friday, October 28, 2022

Tipoff: 7:30 pm EST

Where: Toronto, Canada | Scotiabank Arena

How to watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have always been a team that does an excellent job exposing the Sixers’ weaknesses, and Wednesday night was no different. The Raptors’ offense has the distinct advantage of being both tall and athletic, so stopping requires a strong transition defense – something the Philadelphia 76ers notoriously struggle with (the Sixers are ranked dead-last in transition defense).

On top of that, Pascal Siakam is continuing to build a career season, with 20 points, 19 assists, and 5 rebounds on Wednesday. Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., and OG Anunoby each put up 15+ points on their own as well, marking the first time every member of a starting five has done so since the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns. (Trent had a season-high 27 points).

The Philadelphia 76ers

With Joel Embiid likely seeing limited minutes tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers will need to step up their effort on both sides of the court. Offensively, both Tyrese Maxey and James Harden had decent nights with 31 and 18 points, respectively, while De’Anthony Melton’s 12 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds prove he’s an excellent sixth man. Any defensive effort beyond this lackluster attempt by James Harden would be MUCH appreciated. 

With this tough matchup, the Philadelphia 76ers really need a strong shot blocker with the conditioning to keep up with a much more athletic team. A quick, in-your-face big man would also be valuable in giving Siakam some trouble. Gee, if only the team had guys like that…

Oh wait – they do! Although you wouldn’t know it. All-Defensive Second Team wing, Matisse Thybulle, and “energizer bunny” big man Paul Reed are only averaging 1.5 and 5.7 minutes per game, respectively. Meanwhile, PJ Tucker – who put up just eight points with four rebounds and no assists on Wednesday – is consistently playing more than 30 points a night.

Doc Rivers’ failure to effectively utilize his roster and develop young talent are criticisms that have long followed him and have particularly plagued the team this year. If the Philadelphia 76ers don’t put up a competitive effort using the full depth they’ve acquired, one has to wonder what the head coach’s future with the team is.