There’s no rest for the weary. Barely 72 hours into the season, you’d think the Toronto Raptors would have fresh legs and renewed energy as their former Head Coach, Nick Nurse, returns to Toronto. Last night’s 104-103 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls felt like it left a physical toll on the players (and fans).
O.G. Anunoby left the game in the 4th quarter with muscle cramps. Jakob Poeltl fouled out after only playing 18 minutes. Precious Achiuwa fouled out after only playing 22 minutes. Malachi Flynn “matched” his -14 performance from opening night, but managed to do it in only 4 minutes.
Alas, the Raptors complete their first back-to-back of the season with a visit from Nurse’s Sixers.
As painful as it was to watch the end of the Toronto-Chicago game, imagine being a Philadelphia 76ers fan (actually don’t). Philadelphia is also coming off a heart-breaking 1-point loss where they lost a big 4th-quarter lead. Tyrese Maxey showed Milwaukee why Jrue Holiday was so important, having his way with Buck defenders while amassing a team-leading 31 points and 8 assists. Kelly Oubre turned some heads with his 27-point performance off the bench. The reigning MVP, Joel Embiid, had a rough game (by his lofty standards) shooting 9-for-22 while turning the ball over 7 times.
Both teams will try to come back from their first losses of the season while playing in front of a raucous Scotiabank Arena crowd. Emotions will run high, so buckle up for this one!
How to Watch:
Sportsnet, at 7:30 p.m. ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl
Philadelphia: Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, Joel Embiid
Toronto: Christian Koloko (respiratory)
Philadelphia: James Harden (shrug emoji)
Guess Who’s Back
The championship nostalgia will definitely be in the air as the Raptors welcome back a familiar face: Danny Green.
The Green Ranger played 13 minutes in......okay fine, let’s talk about Nurse.
It’s possible Nurse will bust out some familiar techniques, pack the paint, and dare his old team to beat his new team from outside. It’s very possible there will be a video montage for Nurse. It’s 100% going to happen where Nurse will use both of his challenges!
Nurse, unsurprisingly, rode his best players with heavy minutes in the season opener. Tyrese Maxey played 40 minutes (career average: 33.6). Joel Embiid, who’s never averaged more than 34.6 minutes in a season, played 36 minutes. Tobias Harris once averaged 36.1 minutes....12 seasons ago. He played 37 minutes. Kelly Oubre played 32 minutes.....off the bench. For Nick’s sake, it’s probably good that his team faces the Raptors twice this week (in Philadelphia on Thursday), while his roster still has fresh legs.
Elephant Not In The Room
No, James Harden is not wearing his fat suit again. He is, however, making the current situation even more uncomfortable than donning an extra 100 lbs in polyester.
Harden has called Daryl Morey a liar. Harden has skipped training camp and practices. Harden has finally cracked and attempted to rejoin the team.....only for Philly management to essentially tell him to go to his room (or go to the practice facility to get game-ready).
The logical next step in this drama would be for Nurse, at the next team practice, to have Harden double-teamed every time he crossed halfcourt. Please Nick, make this happen!
Who doesn’t love rankings? Here’s a list of who will annoy Raptors fans the most on Saturday:
1. Joel Embiid — No explanation required
2. Pat Beverley — I will not give him the satisfaction of being #1.
3. James Harden — He’s not even playing and he’ll still manage to annoy you.
3. PJ Tucker — After his first flop.
4. Nick Nurse — After his first challenge.
5. Tyrese Maxey — This is purely out of respect. He will make Dennis Schroder look like a pylon.
24. Danny Green — The least annoying Sixer. Welcome back, Danny!