76ers Blog: Pre-Game Notes ~ 12/13/2013 @ Toronto
12/13/2013 6:42:00 PM
The 76ers (7-16; 4th-Atlantic Division, 13th-Eastern Conference) complete a brief two-game, three-day road trip with their first visit of the year to the Toronto Raptors (7-13; 3rd-Atlantic Division, 11th-Eastern Conference). Tonight's match-up is just the second time through 24 games this season that the Sixers face one of their four Atlantic Division counterparts; that perhaps takes on some noteworthy relevance given the struggles of the division.
Both the Sixers and Toronto are enduring hard times. The Sixers are aiming to avoid a fifth straight defeat, which would establish a new season-long. The Raptors did pick up a convincing 12-point win at the Los Angeles Lakers this past Sunday - it was their first road victory against the Lakers since 2001 - but then on Tuesday, Toronto blew a 12-point first-quarter lead in a setback to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Sixers fell to the Raptors, 108-98, in a November 20th meeting at the Wells Fargo Center; Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan topped all players with 33 points.
PG Michael Carter-Williams ~ Skin infection (out); will miss 5th straight game
F Tyler Hansbrough ~ Left shoulder sprain (day-to-day)
The 76ers will try to make things "connect." It sounded like one of the main frustrations that head coach Brett Brown had with Wednesday's stinging 106-99 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves was the "disconnect" that arose between some of the positive numbers the Sixers produced, and the game's eventual outcome.
The Sixers burst out to a 19-point, first quarter advantage, and for the night, ended up shooting over 50% from the field for the first time in nine games. Additionally, they shot a solid 9-20 from three-point territory, after having converted just 6-37 three-point tries in two games before their stop at the Target Center. On top of that, the Sixers' defense held Minnesota to 38.5% shooting.
Still, the game ended in a loss, due largely in part to the Sixers committing 25 personal fouls, which led to the T-Wolves carving out a 13-point advantage in free throw points. Another major problem area for the Sixers was that they matched a season-high with 26 turnovers, directly resulting in 27 points for their opponent.
At the Sixers' shoot-around today, Spencer Hawes said, "Even though we're in a little bit of a cold streak, you just have to keep grinding away. We're playing a lot better recently. We just got to figure out a formula to turn that into wins, as opposed to having games when you make it too hard on yourself."
An air of uncertainty has settled over the Toronto Raptors organization within the past week. On Monday, the franchise completed a seven-player trade that sent small forward Rudy Gay - a former top 10 first-round draft pick - to the Sacramento Kings. Gay - at the time of the deal - ranked second on Toronto's roster with 19.4 points per game. He was also averaging 7.4 rebounds per game.
Since yesterday, more Raptors-related rumors have started to surface. Multiple reports have indicated that Toronto has been in contact with several teams - including fellow Atlantic Division members the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets - about arranging a deal for Villanova product Kyle Lowrie. The point guard is currently on pace for a career season, with averages of 14.6 points and 6.7 assists.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown talked about getting his side ready for the Raptors, amidst their seemingly unsettled state.
"Any time you come in and you're wondering about match-ups, and trying to give people assignments, it does put curve balls in the mix," said Brett Brown. "We don't really change that much for most people because of the stage that our young team is in, but it has caused a little bit of problems on wondering who is going to play tonight."