Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Toronto looks to bounce back after Wednesday's tough overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls with a victory later tonight in Philadelphia. The HQ's Chris Walder previews tonight's action.
Philadelphia has a 2-1 series lead, but in their most recent matchup, Toronto held the Sixers to a season-low 72 points in a 90-72 blowout at the Air Canada Centre back on January 9th.
Saying the 76ers have been struggling as of late may be an early candidate for understatement of the year. The team is 1-7 in the month of January and losers of 17 of their past 23 games.
They sit seven games under .500 with a record of 16-23, which is good enough for 10th in the Eastern Conference. Toronto sits just two games back in the standings at 14-25.
As always, here is your "Triple W: Walder's Winning Ways" for the game.
1) Get DeMar DeRozan involved early
In three games against Philadelphia this season, DeRozan is averaging 20.7 points a contest.
Back on January 9th, DeMar played 40 minutes while scoring 19 points on 8 for 15 shooting from the field. He also chipped five rebounds, one steal and one block.
He had a solid outing Wednesday against Chicago (18 points, 3 rebounds), but he seemingly disappeared near the end of the game and became a non-factor when it mattered most.
In fact, over the last seven games, DeRozan is only shooting 36.1% from the field.
Considering the success he's had against the Sixers this season, this game should be the perfect opportunity for DeMar to get back into a rhythm offensively and find a consistency with his shot once again.
2) Spread the ball
Passing the ball effectively and getting teammates open looks was the name of the game the last time these teams met.
Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon combined for 15 assists and ZERO turnovers as all five starters scored in double-digits.
Jose actually leads the league in assist/turnover ratio at 4.750.
The Raptors play their best basketball when the ball is moving and the offense is being spread. Philadelphia isn't exactly a defensive powerhouse (bottom-half of the league in opponents points, field-goal percentage and turnovers per game), so repeating the success of the passing game should do wonders this go-around.
3) Play small......and get away with it.
To combat their size, coach Casey felt the need to start Aaron Gray at the five spot, which was a move purely made for defensive purposes. Unfortunately, considering Gray's knack for getting into foul trouble and being close to useless on the offensive end, that plan never truly panned out.
Against Philadelphia, the Raptors won't have to worry about any seven-footers having their way in the paint, as the Sixers are mainly a perimeter-oriented team.