Sixers-Raptors: What you need to know

978959.jpg

Sixers-Raptors: What you need to know

Sixers vs. Raptors 7 p.m., CSN
Air Canada Centre, Toronto

Last meeting
The Sixers overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to roll to a 106-98 victory over the Raptors on Nov. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center. Jrue Holiday paced the Sixers with 19 points and 12 assists while Nick Young led the way with 23 points, 10 in the decisive fourth quarter. Young also had a season-high four assists.

Its all part of the Swaggy P movement, Young said after the game while wearing a sweatshirt that read, Swaggy P, which he says was given to him by a fan. They were double-teaming me, so I just hit the open man.

Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozen combined for 46 points

Records
Sixers: 15-21 (fourth place in Atlantic Division)

Raptors: 12-22 (fifth place in Atlantic Division)

Previous games
The Sixers face their fourth back-to-back in a row. This time they travel to Toronto a night after ending an eight-game road trip with their fourth straight loss. On Tuesday night, the Sixers trailed the Nets by a point at the half but were hit with an 18-2 Brooklyn run to start the third in a 109-89 defeat.

It was the third straight game in which the Sixers allowed exactly 109 points and lost by 20 or more points.

Toronto had won eight of nine before dropping its last two straight. Last time out, the Raptors took a 104-92 loss to Oklahoma City, despite Alan Anderson's 27 points off the bench.

Who's hot
Jrue Holiday had 19 points and eight assists on Tuesday night on 7-for-11 shooting, and went 3 of 3 from three-point land. Over the last 10 games, Holiday has averaged 18.5 points and nearly nine assists and five rebounds per game.

Spencer Hawes has found his shooting stroke, burying 16 of 22 shots in his last two games for 36 points. Hawes, however, had only one rebound on Tuesday night and has gone just 2 of 4 from the foul line in the last four games.

Who's not
Evan Turner continues to struggle with his shot. Though he led the Sixers with seven rebounds on Tuesday night, he shot 4 for 11. Over the last eight games, Turner is shooting just 36 percent (31 for 86).

Probable starters
Sixers
Jrue Holiday (18.4 ppg, 8.9 apg )
Jason Richardson (10.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
Lavoy Allen (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
Thad Young (14.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
Evan Turner (14 ppg, 6.7 rpg)

Raptors
Amir Johnson (8.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Ed Davis (8.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
DeMar DeRozan (18.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Jose Calderon (10.1 ppg, 7.7 apg)
Mickael Pietrus (22 mins., 5.9 ppg)

Injuries
Andrew Bynum (bone bruise) is out indefinitely.

Kwame Brown (personal issues) missed Tuesday nights game.

For the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is out.

Rookie Jonas Valanciunas (broken finger) is out.

Aaron Gray (flu), Linus Kleiza (knee) and Terrence Ross (ankle) are questionable for Wednesdays game.

E-mail John Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Position: Shooting Guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed — $3,807,147

Stauskas in 2016-17
In his second season with the Sixers and third in the NBA, Nik Stauskas saw himself generally improve across the board, albeit by a small amount. The Sixers as a whole had a plethora of injuries that kept nearly every player off the court for extended periods, yet Stauskas remained healthy enough to play 80 games, start 27 and play 27.4 minutes a contest. Health is certainly a skill and Stauskas has it.

As for his play on the court, Stauskas got better in essentially every category. His field goal percentage rose from 38.5 to 39.6 percent, he shot a career-high 36.8 percent from three and he improved his scoring to 9.5 points per game while also sporting career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks with only a 2.6 minute increase in minutes per game.

His consistency was pretty notable. He played at least 23 minutes in every game after Jan. 20 and was a constant in an ever-changing Sixers rotation. He had eight straight games with double figures to end February. While he began the year as the backup two-guard, Stauskas started at shooting guard by the end of the year with Gerald Henderson nursing an injury. Coach Brett Brown even had Stauskas play point guard down the stretch with injuries to Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez creating an opening. In that way, Stauskas diversified his skill set

Signature game
Stauskas' season-high 21 points came against Phoenix in mid-November, a win against a team even worse than the Sixers. Stauskas had 20 points on back-to-back games in Orlando and Oklahoma City in late March, hitting eight threes over the two games.

But what is a signature game for Stauskas without a little measure of revenge? On Jan. 30, Stauskas made four threes and scored 16 points against the Kings, providing some key baskets in a 122-119 win over his former mates.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Next season for Stauskas will be a critical one. It'll be the final season of his four-year rookie contract. While he's improved year to year, he's not quite the product one may expect out of the former eighth overall pick. At this point, a few years removed from that 2014 draft, it is unfair to continually compare him to that draft and instead focus on what he is.

Well, what is Stauskas? He's a shooting guard who can play a little bit of the point in a pinch and can hit a decent, albeit not elite, clip of threes. There's value there for sure. However, with a bevy of potential draft picks coming the Sixers' way, the guard known as Sauce Castillo could see his role downsized in 2017-18 with a rookie taking his minutes.

Even players getting healthy could take minutes away from Stauskas. He's already competing with veteran Gerald Henderson, also a free agent after 2017-18, for minutes and Bayless may be squeezed into more of a two-guard role with Ben Simmons at the point. Simmons, Bayless and T.J. McConnell likely take away the few opportunities Stauskas would have to play point guard, but he only took that on because of injury anyway.

Still, even in a roster squeeze, Stauskas brings a fair amount to the table. Brown's system needs shooters and despite a few slumps, Stauskas can drain jumpers. He's developed chemistry in the locker room and has earned enough trust and stayed healthy enough to play 27 minutes a game in the NBA. 

On Stauskas
"We're seeing a skill package that everybody talked about when he came out of college. You're seeing a lottery pick play. I'm personally happy for him because he cares sometimes too much and he's so self-conscious at times and extremely prideful and he's being rewarded for the work he has put in."

- Sixers coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

ATLANTA -- John Wall had that look in his eye at morning shootaround.

Bradley Beal knew it was going to be a big night for Washington's star point guard.

Wall scored 42 points -- a career playoff high, with 19 coming in the fourth quarter to single-handedly hold off a furious Atlanta comeback -- and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday, capturing the opening-round playoff series 4-2.

"You could just tell he was locked in," Beal said. "He was ready to go. We just feed off that."

Beal wasn't too shabby either, scoring 31 points (see full recap).

Celtics complete series comeback, eliminate Bulls
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday (see full recap).

Clippers beat Jazz on road to force Game 7
SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.

He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds (see full recap).