The Philadelphia 76ers will play their final home game of the calendar year tonight as they take on the Toronto Raptors. This is the third and final game of the Sixers homestand and they’ll be leaving for a road trip to finish out the calendar year away from home. Coming off a huge win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday, they are riding high as they’ve won seven of their last eight games.
Sixers. vs Raptors game details
Who: Toronto Raptors (11-16) at Philadelphia 76ers (19-8)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA League Pass
Sixers vs Bulls betting info
Spread: Sixers -8.5 | Raptors +8.5
Moneyline: Sixers -345 | Raptors +275
Total: Over/Under 230.5
What’s going on with the Sixers
The Sixers have enjoyed a whole month of playing the bottom of the Eastern Conference barrel. After a loss to the Celtics on December 1st, in which neither Embiid nor Maxey played, the Sixers won six straight games before a loss to the lowly Bulls on Monday of this week. The first real test would have been Wednesday against the Timberwolves, who held the best record in the whole league. The Sixers made that one look easy as Embiid and Maxey combined for 86 points on the night, shutting down the Wolves 127-113.
Joel Embiid is leading the league in scoring at 35.1 points per game and is fifth in rebounds at 11.8 per game. The crazy part, for people outside of Philadelphia who may not know, is that he’s built these numbers playing 30 minutes per game over the past month and hardly playing in any 4th quarters of games. It’s not hard to imagine the numbers Embiid would be putting up if he played 36-38 minutes per game.
What the Sixers need is for the rest of the team to step up as Embiid and Maxey have. Tobias Harris has been a shell of his former self of late. He’s averaging 11.6 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting over the last ten games. He’s taken less than 10 shots in a game five times over the last eight games and hasn’t taken more than 10 shots since their game against the Celtics on Dec. 1, where he was pretty much the featured player. Harris is going to need to find a way out of his slump.
What’s going on with the Raptors
The Raptors come into Philly on the heals of a 113-104 loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday night, where they couldn’t keep up with the Nuggets despite Scottie Barnes’s 30 points. Currently, 11th in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors feature a good number of just “ok” players.
Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby are the names and talents that you would recognize, and they’re the leaders of the team. Siakam and Barnes are quite a duo at the top of the roster, with Siakam averaging 21 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game, while Barnes is averaging 20.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. That’s a pretty dynamic duo for the team, but it’s just not enough. Anunoby is only averaging 14.7 points per game, as he’s been the subject of Sixers trade rumors since last summer.
After the aforementioned trio, the team has Dennis Schroder, Gary Trent Jr., Jakob Poeltl, and Precious Achiuwa as their second tier of players that doesn’t really strike fear into opponents. The 7’0″ 260 lb. Poeltl has the size to stand down low with Embiid, he just doesn’t have the talent or speed needed to contest the MVP from the Sixers. There’s not much the team has been able to do right over the past month as they’ve lost seven of their last ten games.
What to watch for tonight
The Sixers should want to give the hometown fans a show tonight, especially after coming off the huge win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night at home. The Raptors don’t present much of a challenge as they’ve spent the bulk of the season, so far, near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey should be looking at another 70-80 combined points against the Raptors.
The Sixers will still be without Nico Batum, and it looks like De’Anthony Melton, who suffered a knee contusion in the Wolves game, will not be playing as he’s listed as questionable for the game. That might not be the worst thing for the Sixers, as they’re going against a versatile Raptors group. Melton has been just awful the past ten games after having a string of hot ones in mid-November.
Since that stretch, he’s been shooting 37.9% from the field, 30.4% on his three-point attempts, and only averaging 10.7 points per game. After being up over 13 points per game for a while, he’s dropped down to 11 with this bad stretch. A rest for Melton may let him get his head cleared, physically get healthy, reset himself, and get back on the right track for the team.
For the rest of the squad, it should be business as usual. They’re going to need a lot from Harris and Kelly Oubre Jr., and they should be able to count on some quality minutes from Marcus Morris Sr., Pat Beverley, Danuel House Jr., and Paul Reed. They’ll need to have all of them on their best games to give the Sixers and their fans a big win to end the homestand and games for the calendar year.
Sixers 129 – Raptors 111