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Raptors vs. 76ers Preview: Grudge Match (3 in the Key)

Dwayne Casey has his team playing solid ball of late, but will it be enough to take down the desperate 76ers tonight at the ACC?  Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE
Dwayne Casey has his team playing solid ball of late, but will it be enough to take down the desperate 76ers tonight at the ACC? Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

Despite their recent slide, the 76ers are still hanging on to the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and will be desperate for a win tonight in T.O in a rematch of last week's tilt between these two teams. Who has the edge this time around? The HQ's Scott Campsall breaks down the rematch.

A few short weeks ago the Philadelphia 76ers looked like a lock for a top 4 seed in the Eastern Conference with a possible shot at reaching the second round.

If you had asked me then to preview their match-up with the Raptors, I would have said the Dinos have a slim chance at taking down what looked like a powerhouse Sixer squad. At this point however, it looks like it is the Sixers who will have the more challenging game, attempting to take down the Raptors in Toronto this evening.

A great deal has changed over the past few weeks for the 76ers who are in the midst of a stretch where they have lost 10 of their last 15 games and are now in danger of missing the playoffs all together, sitting just two games up on the 9th place Milwaukee Bucks.

On the Raptor side of things, Dwane Casey has his team playing solid basketball of late despite relying heavily on rotation players during that stretch. Casey and Co. will be looking to close out the final eight games of the season in strong fashion, which means it is likely that we will see a scrappy, hardworking Raptor club grace the floor of the ACC this evening.

Taking into consideration their play over the last few games and how well they played last time out against Philadelphia, this is yet another winnable game for the Raps-much to the dismay of those pushing the TankNation movement.

On the plus side for Philadelphia, the Dinos will likely be without Andrea Bargnani who was a huge part of the Raptor win last time around.

If The 76ers show any sort of urgency--as they should with this game being extremely crucial for them in order to stay in that that final playoff position--than at the very least, this should be a competitive basketball game.

As usual, here are the three most crucial things that the Raptors need to accomplish in order to play the spoiler role and grab that W at home tonight:

1) Get on the Glass: The last time these two teams faced each other, the Raptors finished the game with a rebounding advantage of plus 17 which was a huge reason they were able to win that game. This time around, the Dinos are going to need a similar effort to stop the 76ers who should be desperate for a victory.

This is a game where the Raps are going to need a big effort out of two guys who had solid games against the Pacers on Monday in Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. Their quickness and athleticism make them much better matchups against Phily's bigs than the likes of Magloire and Gray, who are a tad too slow to stick with the 76er big men.

2) Get Things Going Early: Against a team like the 76ers who have such great depth it will be key for the Dinos to get going early and build a big enough lead to withstand the Sixers' bench attack.

As we noted heading into the previous matchup between these two teams, the 76ers bring three very solid players off of the pine in Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Jodie Meeks. All three of those players strugged against the Dinos in that last meeting however, they each have the ability to go off at anytime and it will be important for the Raptors to try and neturalize their bench attack by building a solid lead against their starters.

3) Sustained effort for 48 minutes: On Monday night against the Pacers the Raps struggled in that second quarter and dug themselves quite the hole-one which they were unable to dig themselves out of despite an impressive showing in the second half. If the Dinos are going to grab their 21st win of the season against a more talented 76ers team, they are going to have to work hard on both ends of the floor for the entirety of the ballgame.