Game Preview: Raptors at 76ers

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

Toronto Raptors (21-8) @ Philadelphia 76ers (14-16)

When: Thursday, December 21st 7 P.M. ET

Where: Wells Fargo Center

Broadcast info: SN1, TSN1050

Last meeting: 

The Raptors earned a 128-94 victory against the 76ers in the first meeting with Philadelphia this season. Playing at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto jumped out to a quick 36-19 lead after the first quarter and the Sixers were stuck trying to play catch up the rest of the way through. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 30 points, including a 14-for-16 performance from the free throw line. Serge Ibaka added 21 points and hit five three-pointers and Kyle Lowry contributed 17 points. The Sixers were led by 16 points from Jerryd Bayless as they played without Joel Embiid.

Leading into this afternoon’s game: 

Injury report: Lucas Nogueira is out with a right calf injury while C.J. Miles did not travel with the team following a dental procedure. The Sixers have not yet announced their injury report.

Passing the rock: In Toronto’s 129-111 victory against the Charlotte Hornets, the team set a season-high for assists with 35 on 49 made field goals. This is the fourth time this season the team has had 30+ assists and the ninth time scoring at least 120 points. Wednesday’s victory was Toronto’s 10th in its last 11 games. 

Home and home: Thursday’s game will be the second in a back-to-back for Toronto, while the Sixers will have fresh legs, having last played on Tuesday in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. The game will also kick off a home-and-home with Philadelphia, with the Sixers heading to Toronto to take on the Raptors once again on Saturday in a 5 PM. ET tipoff.

Extra assists:

OG for three: Rookie OG Anunoby came into the game ranking second among all rookies in three-point shooting. He was lights out from beyond the arc in Charlotte, making six of his seven three-point attempts as he finished the game scoring 17 points in 29 minutes. Via TSNs Josh Lewenberg, Anunoby is shooting 19-for-33 (58 percent) from beyond the arc this month.

Sizzling Simmons: Philadelphia rookie Ben Simmons has been incredible in his first NBA season thus far. How good? He and Russell Westbrook are the only two players in the NBA averaging at least 17 points, nine rebounds and 7.5 assists per game, and he is also the only rookie since the 1963-64 season with four triple-doubles through 29 career games. He also ranks second in the NBA in steals per game, trailing only Paul George (69) and Westbrook (61) in total steals this year.

Familiar faces: The Raptors face a beloved ex-Raptor when they see Amir Johnson in Philadelphia. Johnson spent six seasons with Toronto, becoming a fan favourite immediately. Sixers guard Jerryd Bayless also appeared in 91 games for the Raptors spanning the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Beyond the court, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo served as the Raptors’ general manager from 2006-13. Away from the arena, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is a Philadelphia native who also played at Villanova University before heading to the NBA.