This morning I wrote about the reality of the Toronto Raptors.
It was not meant to be a "doom and gloom" piece, just an assessment of the club 10 games in based on various statistics, in particular, ones that reveal a basketball club that isn't particularly strong at either end of the court.
It's all about waiting for Kyle Lowry, who by all current reports, should be back in the next week or so.
Until then the Raptors will just have to make do with what they have, something their opponent tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers, is certainly familiar with.
The Sixers of course have been without their key off-season acquisition as well in Andrew Bynum. Only instead of hoping he'll be back on the court in the next few weeks like Lowry, the club found out over the weekend that thanks to a freak bowling incident, they could very well be without their supposed franchise player for MUCH longer.
Despite his absence though, and after a bit of a rough start, the Sixers have turned things around.
The club has won two straight to get over the .500 hump, and are getting some very nice contributions from two of their key youngsters, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. There's work to be done rotation wise, and we're not sure what's up with Spence Hawes' hair, but the Raps have a tough match ahead of them this evening on the road.
Here are our three keys:
1) First to 90 wins. As noted this AM, the Raps haven't been scoring at a terrific clip this season. The 76ers though? Even worse.
The Sixers are averaging 89 points per game, the fourth-worst mark in the league.
On the other side though the Sixers have one of the league's stingiest defences (fourth in defensive efficiency) so even with the Raptors lax play at that end, I'm not expecting this to be a barn-burner. In fact, it could very well be "first to 90 wins" as the edict for the match challenging Toronto's mediocre offense to be superior on the night to Philly's solid D.
2) Point guard battle. Jose Calderon has been putting up some great stats of late but Jrue Holiday as mentioned, has been very effective as well. What's interesting tonight is that while both have different strengths to their respective games, they both lead offenses that are currently playing at exactly the same pace, using 93.5 possessions per game.
To me this is a biggie and whichever floor general does the better job not only of facilitating for his troops, but also controlling the tempo, puts his club at a big advantage.
3) The big man battle. While neither club has a stellar rebounding rate so far, this is a category that Toronto should be able to have an advantage in. Outside of Thad Young, Philly's front line is hardly on the same level athletically as that of the Raps, and I'm hoping tonight to see Jonas Valanciunas, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson providing major box-out issues for the 76ers' big men. Considering the offensive struggles of these two clubs, getting easy put-backs and second chances could go a long ways towards determining a winner tonight.