Aside from the Toronto Raptors, the Atlantic Division has been a mess for quite some time.
With the Brooklyn Nets deciding to mortgage the future and go all-in on the likes of an aging Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Co. in 2013, they’ve been irrelevant for years, and likely will be for seasons to come. The New York Knicks are a dysfunctional crew in their own right, as witnessed at the Air Canada Centre over the weekend.
The Boston Celtics have been grooming a contender, led by stud guard Isaiah Thomas but still aren’t quite in the NBA’s upper echelon.
Which brings us to the Philadelphia 76ers and their much-talked about ‘Process.’ Well don’t look now but the Sixers have won four of their past five games. In the contest directly before this hot stretch, they hung around with the Celtics, only losing by four points.
Toronto hits the City of Brotherly Love with a perfect 9-0 record against Atlantic foes, and will look to chalk up another win over a ‘rival.’ Here are three things to watch for on Wednesday night.
Frontcourt in Shambles:
Patrick Patterson missed his third straight game Tuesday against Brooklyn as he recovers from a knee injury. Lucas Nogueira once again filled in as Toronto’s starting power forward, but was forced to the locker room in the first quarter to undergo the concussion protocol. Bebe experienced blurred vision in his left eye and his status for Wednesday’s affair is unclear at this point. Check back with our Game Thread later today for the latest news on the Brazilian big man.
So it’s safe to say the Raptors’ frontcourt is dealing with some adversity. If Patterson and Nogueira can’t go, rookies Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl will have to absorb the minutes. Dwane Casey could also roll out a smaller lineup, using DeMarre Carroll at the four spot. That would be a way for Cory Joseph, who had a career night against the Nets, to get some more burn.
Playing the lowly Nets, there was no need to trot Kyle Lowry out for his usual 30+ minutes. Even without their floor general, the Raptors were able to send Brooklyn to its 11th straight loss.
With Lowry playing with a little extra energy and already dealing with the excitement of being back in his home town, the all-star seems primed for a big night.
The Raptors have two all-star guards and are playing on back-to-back nights against inferior opponents. Lowry didn’t play Tuesday, so does that mean DeMar DeRozan will sit out tonight? He’s coming off another one of his seemingly routine 36-point outings, but he also tallied team highs in rebounds (11) and assists (six).
If DeRozan doesn’t see the floor, look for Norman Powell to slide into the starting lineup. Powell has been dynamite whenever he plays with the first unit, averaging 14.7 points on 51 per cent shooting as a starter.
Where to Watch: 7:00 p.m. ET on TSN 1/4/5