I strongly dislike over-exaggerating. I am typically the captain of the Stay Calm - Next Game Ship.
However, with the Toronto Raptors heading into tonight’s game just 5.5 games away from dead last in the league, a team that looks like they have no flow or chemistry, the effort strongly lacks, and they just seem unable to get healthy, it may be time to start watching these games for the “little wins.”
What is a little win? Well, thank you for asking. It’s something you can be happy about, even if your team doesn’t win the game. A positive checklist perhaps, so fans of losing teams can still enjoy watching their team play.
For some teams, it’s simply the fact that Victor Wembanyama is available come next June. If we’re being honest, the Raptors may be close to entering that territory.
I don’t know if they are yet. They still currently sit in the play-in at 10th in the East. One of those places where only a growing young team would view it as a positive outcome. But, with a very tough stretch coming up, where the Raptors only play above .500 teams till the middle of January, they soon could be in that group of teams.
One of those difficult matchups come tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers. A team with a legitimate MVP candidate in Joel Embiid, and a collection of players who have really found their groove since James Harden’s return from injury.
So let’s ask ourselves. What are some little wins we can look for in tonight’s Raptors vs 76ers matchup?
Where to watch:
Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Juancho Hernangomez, Pascal Siakam, Christian Koloko
Philadelphia 76ers — De’Anthony Melton, James Harden, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, Joel Embiid
Toronto Raptors — Precious Achiuwa (Out - Ankle), OG Anunoby (Out - Hip), Otto Porter Jr. (Out - Foot), Gary Trent Jr. (Questionable - Quad)
Philadelphia 76ers — Furkan Korkmaz (Questionable - Non-Covid Illness), Tyrese Maxey (Out - Foot)
Pascal Siakam’s push for All-NBA
I point it out every time the Raptors go up against someone with an All-NBA caliber player. How you face off in these head-to-head matchups are the random games that stick in the voters’ heads.
And since the Raptors may not have very many big, meaningful wins, these are the games that matter for Pascal Siakam.
After a few slow games, Siakam bounced back with a slightly inefficient, yet solid game against the Golden State Warriors last night. Scoring lots, and filling up the stat sheet, as he has been known to do this season.
An end result of 27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the Raptors star player in a terrible loss, but the 3/5 from 3-point looks juicy. For those last few games, you could tell that he was becoming unconfident in his jump shot, because every possession he had the ball, he’d slowly make his way into the post. Let’s see if he comes out of the gate firing like he did last night, and utilizing his improved shooting ability.
The Malachi Flynn effect
This has sure been a bright spot for the Raptors in the past couple of games. Malachi Flynn has scored 13 and 16 in the last two contests, his second and third highest point totals on the season.
He brings quite a few elements to this team, that other players don’t really have in their skill set. I have debated about writing an article on this topic, so if you want to see it, let me know in the comment section below!
Wow, do I feel like a corny YouTuber typing that out.
Christian Koloko and maybe his toughest potential matchup
When the Raptors drafted Christian Koloko, I think it was a mix of taking a player off the board who they felt was the best available, but also knowing that they needed a big man.
A lot of people were expecting the rookie to slowly develop into the team, let alone the rotation, let alone the starting lineup! But as Christian Koloko heads into tonight, he has started over half of the team’s games, and is the only player on the roster not to miss a game due to injury.
Tonight is a difficult task, as he and the Raptors take on the dominance of Joel Embiid for the third time this season. Koloko currently stands 13th in the league in total blocks, but protecting the rim and guarding the brute force of Joel Embiid are two completely separate things. I am going to enjoy seeing how Nick Nurse matches up against Embiid, and what the defensive game plan is, to help Koloko defensively tonight.
Christmas music ringing throughout the house
We have officially reached the week of Christmas. One of the most anticipated days of the year is within our grasp, and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than through Christmas music?
I know some people claim that they don’t like it, but you can survive one week of it surely, right? Besides, when you’re favourite basketball team is bringing you limited joy, why not turn to some tunes about one of the best days of the year.