Ho-hum. Let's get this out of the way quickly. The Raptors play up and down to competition. It's extremely annoying at times, but as long as they get the wins against bottom feeders, I'm okay with close games. I'm at the point now where I know the Raptors will play the GOOD teams tough, so all that matters to me with respect to games against non-playoff teams is the result. So with that in mind, let's all be happy that the Raptors now sit at 46-32 with one win or one Brooklyn loss from clinching their second division title.
However, this game wasn't pretty by any means. Looking at the box score, you have some shiny offensive numbers from Lowry, JV, and Patterson among others. But the real story today was the defence -- or lack thereof. Dwane Casey definitely won't be thrilled with the way his team looked in this game. The Sixers shot 51% from the field in this one, and all time greats like James Anderson and Henry Sims had their way against the Raptors all night. Toronto got off to a fast start and held a 34-28 lead at the end of the first quarter. Every time Philly would make a run, the Raps would stretch that margin out back up to 6 to 10 points. The Raptors' penchant for not putting teams away kept Philly interested throughout. After taking a 68-60 lead at halftime, and a 98-89 lead after 3 quarters, the Raptors stretched this out of ream once and for all when it was 116-110 Toronto. A couple of rare, good defensive sequences, combined with some shotmaking from Kyle Lowry had the Raptors winning this one comfortably 125-114.
- Jonas Valanciunas: It's been a rough week for the big man. I was curious to see how he'd respond, given that he hadn't spoken to the media since the DUI charge. JV was dialed in all night -- putting in 26 points and 12 rebounds on only 14 shots. After the game, he told Eric Smith, "I just want to make up for my mistakes." Stay out of trouble and keep playing this way, and we'll be alright.
- Patrick Patterson: How good is it to have Patman back? A team leading +25 on the night, Patterson was about the only Raptor interested playing defense. Add in the fact that he pitched in 17 points on 7-11 shooting, and it's no wonder that the Raptors continue to be able to afford giving Amir Johnson some more rest.
- Kyle Lowry: Speaking of getting people back, it looks like the week+ off has done a world of good for Kyle Lowry. K-Low looked ready to go from the jump and played a cool 38 minutes for his 29 point - 8 assist - 5 rebound game. Not the best we've seen him look defensively, but it's good to have him back.
- Defence: Just horrendous and porous all game. As I mentioned above, the Sixers shot 52% on the night. Henry Sims scored 20 points on 15 shots. James Anderson scored 17 points and hit 5 three pointers. Michael Carter-Williams added a Kyle Lowry-esque 19-9-8. Can't be giving up 114 points to the 2nd worst team in the league.
- The 76ers' Roster: Take a minute and go through this roster. If that ain't ugly, I don't know what is. At least they have Nerlens Noe, 2 lottery picks, and a gazillion 2nd round picks to look forward to.