We all know the feeling. You put something in the calendar — drinks with friends, a movie you’ve been dying to see (ooh, Avatar whales), a day trip to a cabin. Then, the day gets closer and the outside factors creep in. The snow starts to fall, somebody drops out of the event, life gets busy. Pretty soon you’re not as excited for whatever had you had planned in the first place, and you’re starting to dread all the ways it could go wrong.
That’s where the Toronto Raptors are at tonight. In any other circumstance, a six-game stretch against teams in playoff position, starting with a playoff rematch against a burgeoning rival in the Philadelphia 76ers, would have us running to our televisions — or snapping up tickets.
Now? The dread kicks in. The Raptors have lost five straight, their defense looks broken, the Internet is on overdrive dreaming of ways to blow the whole thing up — and the rest of the league is looking on, salivating. Playing the Sixers on the tail end of a back-to-back where you got smacked around by the Steph Curry-less Warriors is akin to a spoonful of lima beans.
Focusing in further, Joel Embiid is not the guy the Raptors want to see in the middle of a crisis at the centre position. Christian Koloko has had a real rough stretch of games at the same time that Embiid has rounded into MVP form — scoring at least 30 points in six straight coming into tonight, peaking with a 53-point, 12-rebound monstrosity against the Hornets on December 11. The Sixers continue to be without Tyrese Maxey — and, less importantly, Furkan Korkmaz tonight — but are chugging along all the same, going 7-3 in their last 10 games and skying to fifth in the competitive East.
The Raptors did get some hope today. Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby both entered today with questionable designations with quad soreness and a hip injury, respectively. Trent Jr. will continue to be out, but Anunoby is a true game time decision and could return — potentially a boon, as OG has been tasked with guarding Embiid already this season.
Gary Trent Jr. is out.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 19, 2022
OG is a game-time call.
Update: OG is in!
Is it as bleak as I’m making it out to be? That depends on your outlook. Still, the Raptors are in tough tonight and a streak-snapping win would feel all the more euphoric because of it.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 7 PM ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Juancho Hernangomez, Pascal Siakam
Philadelphia 76ers — De’Anthony Melton, James Harden, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, Joel Embiid
Toronto Raptors — Gary Trent Jr. (out – quad), Precious Achiuwa (out – ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (out – foot)
Philadelphia 76ers — Furkan Korkmaz (out – non-COVID illness), Tyrese Maxey (out – foot)