Exactly one week after the Raptors beat the Sixers 94-86 in Philly (led by Andrea Bargnani’s season-high 30 points), the two teams meet again in Toronto with the Raptors riding a three-game win streak and the Sixers sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference with a 3-11 record. This seems like it should be the rare instance where the Raptors should be considered obvious favourites, but we can assume that Sixers coach Doug Collins has learned a couple of things about the Raptors based on last week’s game.
Considering how he lit them up in the first game and that he’s scored 85 points over his last three games, the time may have arrived for teams to start double-teaming Bargnani — particularly since the Sixers don’t seem to have anyone who can effectively cover him one-on-one. (Elton Brand will be serving a 0ne-game suspension for this flagrant foul he committed on Javale McGee last night.) Aside from the Raptor debuts of Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic, that’s the main storyline that I’ll be following tonight.
Toronto: Now that Ed Davis has been sent down to the D-League to rehab and get some reps, the Raptors have a clean injury slate.
Philadelphia: Jason Kapono has missed the Sixers’ last two games due to unspecified personal reasons (not exactly a big loss there) while Andre Iguodala (right Achilles tendinitis) and Andres Nocioni (bruised left foot) played last night so they’ll probably be in the lineup tonight.
1. How will Andrea Bargnani respond to the double-teams he’ll likely face?
2. Can Sonny Weems continue his impressive scoring output with a lockdown defender like Andre Iguodala possibly guarding him?
3. How many minutes will Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic see tonight?
4. Are Raptors fans underestimating the potential benefit that Stojakovic could bring to this team? The Raptors are dead last in the NBA in three-point shooting at 29.6 percent and Stojakovic is shooting 44 percent (11 for 25) from that range this season.
5. Will Stojakovic reach the most significant career milestone of any player to wear a Raptors jersey? He’s five three-pointers behind Dale Ellis for third all-time.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Philadelphia: Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Spencer Hawes
Your pregame song for tonight is “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails. I just found out that Trent Reznor is reissuing his debut album, “Pretty Hate Machine”, which knocked many a teenager (including myself) on his or her ass back in the early ’90s. This was the first and best song on the album and I just listened to it for the first time in years. It still holds up. “I’D RATHER DIE… THAN GIVE YOU CONTROL!” *kicks over monitor*