The Philadelphia 76ers are sure to be feeling aggrieved when they head back to the Great White North for just the second time since falling to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last year. Kawhi Leonard sunk the first buzzer beater to win a Game 7 in NBA history to knock the Sixers out of the playoffs, and the Raptors went on to win their first NBA title. Leonard is no longer with the Raptors, but there are plenty of familiar faces from last year’s team, including burgeoning star Pascal Siakam.
This game will take place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on January 22, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
These teams have played twice this season, with the home team winning both games. In late November, Philadelphia returned to Toronto to take on the Raptors and lost 101-96. Siakam and Fred VanVleet were terrific for the Raptors in that game, combining to score 49 points for Toronto, but Joel Embiid had one of the worst games of his career. Embiid had 13 rebounds, but he went 0-11 from the floor and turned the ball over four times. To make matters worse, he had five personal fouls, and he was noticeably frustrated throughout the evening.
Philadelphia and Toronto met in the City of Brotherly Love two weeks later, and the result was much better for the Sixers. Embiid still didn’t play well, turning the ball over seven times while finishing with just 10 points, but Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Matisse Thybulle shot the lights out. The 76ers shot better than 50 percent from the floor in a 110-104 victory.
Embiid won’t be in action until the weekend at the earliest after fracturing his finger two weeks ago. Philadelphia has been cautious with the injury, as the Sixers don’t want their star big man to play in pain given the grind of the regular season. Not having Embiid in the lineup might not be a bad thing either considering his struggles against the Raptors this year.
Toronto won’t have center Dewan Hernandez available for this game due to an ankle injury. Hernandez has scarcely played as the last pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, so his absence isn’t much of a worry when it comes to the betting odds.
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Siakam’s emergence has been the story of the season for Toronto. Not many analysts believed the Raptors would be competitive again after Leonard left for Los Angeles, but his play has helped the Raptors get off to a 28-14 start this season. Siakam is averaging 23.8 PPG and leads the team in PER among qualified players, but he contributes in other areas too with 7.5 RPG and 3.6 APG. Like Leonard, he is a terror on defense, so Toronto hasn’t had much of a drop-off.
Philadelphia might mix it up without Embiid. The 76ers lost their first two games without their star center, and it’s not much of a relief that they have won three in a row when those victories have been against Brooklyn, Chicago, and New York. Simmons and Harris have done their best to fill the void, but we need to see other players emerge. In particular, Al Horford needs to play up to his massive contract as he has been largely disappointing this season.
Without Embiid, I like Toronto’s chances to get the win. The Raptors have always been a great home team, while the Sixers are 8-14 on the road this campaign.
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