Nerlens Noel's involvement with Sixers increasing
The Sixers (7-16) will again attempt to snap their road losing skid when they head to Toronto to face the Raptors (7-13).
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at Air Canada Centre.
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Who are these guys?
The Sixers will barely recognize this Raptors team when they take the floor on Friday night.
Toronto completed a seven-player deal on Monday that sent Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to Sacramento in exchange for guard Greivis Vasquez, forwards Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson and former Sixer John Salmons.
While the move was clearly designed for the Raptors to shed salary following this season, the Sixers must now be prepared for a team that boasts improved ball handling on the perimeter.
The Raptors lost a volume scorer in Gay, but the Sixers still must focus on slowing down DeMar DeRozan if they hope to end their nine-game skid on the road. Derozan had 33 points in last month’s meeting between the two teams.
2. A very giving mood
The Sixers are taking the season for giving a bit too far.
The team tied a season high by committing 26 turnovers in Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Evan Turner was the main culprit with a career-high nine giveaways.
“Twenty-six turnovers is an enormous number, so we tried to categorize them and see how they happened,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said (see story). “There is a trend of what we do in pace, outlets, kick-aheads or skip passes. There was a trend in trying to get the ball into the post and how we reacted to that, and then there was a trend of playing into a crowd.”
The Sixers must figure out a way to reduce their league-worst 18.0 turnovers a game if they want to put an end to their struggles.
3. Knock ‘em down
While the Raptors’ defense is respectable, the Sixers will have opportunities to exploit it. They just have to make those opportunities count.
The Sixers’ fast pace has propelled them to the second-highest field goal attempts per game with 88.3. And while the Raptors allow an acceptable 99.3 points per game, they still rank 27th in the NBA in opponents’ field goal percentage at 46.6.
With an offensive attack that ranks second in the league in points in the paint per game (50.3), the Sixers should find plenty of open looks Friday night.
Michael Carter-Williams (knee) is day to day.
Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.
Tyler Hansbrough (shoulder) is day to day for the Raptors.
5. This and that
• Despite losing 16 of 20 after their 3-0 start, the Sixers are still only 2½ games back in the woeful Atlantic Division.
• The Sixers are 1-7 this season without Carter-Williams.
• DeRozan is averaging 24.4 points in the Raptors’ last seven home games.
• Evan Turner is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 39.1 percent during the Sixers’ current four-game losing streak.
• Only 13.8 percent of the Raptors' offensive possessions end in an assist. That's worst in the NBA.