Sixers-Raptors: 5 things you need to know

Sixers-Raptors: 5 things you need to know
April 9, 2014, 1:00 pm

The Sixers (17-60) will try to avoid their first ever season sweep at the hands of the Toronto Raptors (45-32) when they battle on Wednesday night.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at Air Canada Centre.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Plenty on the line
A quick glance at this game on the schedule and you may think that it doesn’t have much meaning for either side, but that won’t be the case when both teams take the court north of the border.

For the pro-tanking community, the Sixers could always take another step toward the NBA’s worst record with another loss. However, with the Bucks three games behind them and only five to play, that scenario is likely out of the picture.

A more important matter for the team could be avoiding the franchise’s first season sweep at the hands of the Raptors. The Sixers had won seven of their last nine against the division rival prior to dropping all three matchups this season.

Meanwhile, the Raptors are fighting to win their second Atlantic Division title in franchise history and fend off the Chicago Bulls for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

2. Get in the game
Despite being charged with driving under the influence two days ago, Raptors forward Jonas Valanciunas will take the court against the Sixers.

Valanciunas was arrested at home after police received a report that a vehicle went through a drive-thru with open beer bottles visible.

Toronto can certainly use Valanciunas’ production on the court. The second-year forward is averaging 11.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season. Those numbers have jumped to 17.6 and 9.4, respectively, over the last five games.

With point guard Kyle Lowry and big man Amir Johnson uncertain to play because of injuries, Valanciunas will be crucial to the Raptors’ attack against the Sixers.

3. Every point counts
For a Sixers team that ranks 19th in the NBA in scoring, every bucket is important. That will especially be the case against a fairly stingy Raptors defense.

Toronto is seventh in the league in points allowed (97.6 per game) and ninth in opponents’ field goal percentage (44.8 percent).

The Raptors have already flashed that solid defense against the Sixers this season, holding them under 100 points in two out of the teams’ three meetings.

4. Injuries
Byron Mullens (ankle) has missed the Sixers’ last five games and is listed as day to day.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out.

Johnson (ankle) and Lowry (knee) both participated in practice for the Raptors on Tuesday and are game-time decisions.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have won two of their last five after losing 26 straight games.

• The Raptors have won three straight games and six of their last seven.

• DeMar DeRozan has averaged 31.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game against the Sixers this season.

• Michael Carter-Williams, who is tied for sixth in the NBA with 3.6 turnovers per game, has averaged 5.0 giveaways a game against the Raptors.

• Toronto leads the Atlantic by two games over the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors' lone division crown came in 2006-07.

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