Let’s try this again.
The Raptors will be playing the back end of a back-to-back against the Sixers....again.....less than a week after doing the same.
Last week, Toronto was coming off a heart-breaking, mind-boggling overtime loss in Chicago. This time, they visit Philadelphia on the heels of Darko Rajakovic’s (first but not last) signature victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. O.G. Anunoby and Scottie Barnes took turns shutting down Giannis Antetokounmpo, while Dennis Schroder took advantage of the defensive sieve that is Damian Lillard. The NBA’s 2nd-ranked defense held the explosive Giannis-Dame duo to a measly 31 points on 9-of-20 shooting combined. To put that into perspective, Antetokounmpo scored 33 points on 12-of-21 shooting in their previous game against Miami.
The Raptors will have their hands full, though. Joel Embiid (34 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) and Tyrese Maxey (34 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) had their way in Saturday’s game at Scotiabank Arena — specifically in the third quarter when Philadelphia turned a 3-point deficit into a 12-point lead, thanks to Embiid and Maxey outscoring Toronto 27-20.
This will be a great test for Darko to see how well he can adjust to seeing an opponent for the second time.
How to Watch:
Sportsnet at 7:00 p.m. ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl
Philadelphia: Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid
Toronto: Christian Koloko (respiratory; out), Precious Achiuwa (groin; doubtful)
Philadelphia: Nicolas Batum (personal; out)
The NBA’s Worst Kept Secret
I have to admit that I’m a little surprised. Almost every time a star player requests a trade, they don’t end up where everyone assumes they will. When Damian Lillard wanted out of Portland, initial guesses had him going to Miami. When Kevin Durant wanted out of Brooklyn, initial guesses had him going to Miami. When Bradley Beal wanted out of Washington, initial guesses had him going to Miami.
Okay, maybe I should be more surprised that Harden wasn’t initially rumoured to go to Miami.
Harden wanted to go to the Clippers. The Clippers wanted to get Harden. No other team placed any serious bids. The 4-month-long staring competition ended with a deal that, initially, seemed like Daryl Morey blinked. He was adamant about getting Terence Mann — just as adamant as Lawrence Frank was about keeping him. So, the final package that didn’t include Mann seemed like a win for Los Angeles.
However, most of the players Philadelphia received have mid-sized salaries — Marcus Morris ($17.1MM), Nicolas Batum & Robert Covington ($11.7MM each) — that expire after this season. Those can be flipped (after two months) for a big name (hello Zach Lavine) or they come off the books and give the Sixers ample room to target a big free agent (gulp, hello Pascal Siakam).
The Matchup No One’s Talking About
The “are you not entertained” stars of the early season face off as Scottie Barnes and Joel Embiid try their best not to get suspended or fined.
Sixers star Joel Embiid has been fined $35,000 for this celebration in Sunday’s win over the Trail Blazers, the NBA has announced pic.twitter.com/GIzo8XpmPd— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) October 31, 2023
The Harden trade is only a couple of days old and I’ve given you a 1-section headstart: can you name all the players Philadelphia received?
Robert Covington returns to a Sixers organization where he’s had his most success, notably his All-Defense First Team selection in 2017-18.
Kenyon Martin Jr.’s addition evens the playing field for this game as both teams now have 3 players with “Junior” in their name. Danuel House Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. for Philadelphia. Gary Trent Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and Ron Harper Jr.
After 12 seasons, Marcus Morris (ahem, Senior) finally gets to play for his hometown. With Batum (out due to personal reasons) and Covington (closer to retirement than he is to his better playing days) both ahead of him on the depth chart, Morris has a real shot at making an impact for the team he grew up idolizing.