76ers primed for rare win in Toronto
TORONTO — The Philadelphia 76ers appear to be in a better position this time around to win for the first time in Toronto in six years.
The Raptors had their season-best eight-game winning streak stopped 106-103 by the Denver Nuggets Monday night. The 76ers last played Sunday, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-95 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 76ers have lost 12 games in a row in Toronto, including a 129-112 decision on Oct. 30. Their last win in Toronto came Nov. 10, 2012.
“We look forward to going up there and using it as an early sort of barometer of where we are,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said Tuesday.
Having Butler should make a difference for the 76ers against the Raptors. In their first visit to Toronto this season, Kawhi Leonard, who had 31 points, was able to concentrate on Ben Simmons, who had 11 points (4-for-9), 10 assists and eight rebounds but committed 11 turnovers. The addition of Butler takes some of the focus off Simmons.
“You’ve got sort of a sparring partner for Kawhi, and (an) All-Star now on our team,” Brown said. “And there’s a newness that the history of what we might or might not have done in Toronto is irrelevant to (Butler); he doesn’t care. It’s a new day, we have a new team, and we’re feeling good about the direction that we are heading.”
Butler has averaged 18.1 points per game and scored 20 or more points four times in his first 10 games with the Sixers.
He was acquired Nov. 12 with Justin Patton from Minnesota in exchange for Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round draft pick.
Center Joel Embiid scored 31 points in the 76ers’ first visit to Toronto, where he has never won. “I think everything (Embiid) does is powerful,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said on Tuesday. “It’s hard to say ‘Oh, we can stop him’, he’s just a guy that you must keep a body on, be physical with. He’s just really good. He’s in that conversation for MVP.”
Embiid’s 23 double-doubles this season are the most by an NBA player over the first 25 games of a season since Kevin Garnett also had 23 in 2004-05.
In their loss to the Nuggets, the Raptors shot .268 (11-for-41) from 3-point range and were 3-for-22 (.136) from beyond the arc in the first half. The Raptors are 3-5 this season when they shoot below 30 percent in 3-point attempts. Leonard led the Raptors in scoring for the third straight game and 15th time this season with 27 points. Lowry recorded a team-high 11 assists; his 14th game with 10 or-more assists this season and the 22nd consecutive time that he has led the team outright in assists, matching Damon Stoudamire’s franchise record set in 1996.
Denver dominated the Raptors in second-chance points 23-2. Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who had 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists, said that hurt the offense “a lot.”
“We kind of feed off our defense and being able to get stops,” Siakam said. “When we fight that hard to stop them, we have to be able to get the ball and run. We weren’t able to do that. They got rebounds and we have got to do a better job.”
The Raptors hurt themselves Monday with their slow start.
“Early in the game, they did everything,” Siakam said. “They wanted to win more than we did. We didn’t bring the energy that we usually have. We let them get on a run and then we had to fight back. Good job — the second unit came in. They gave us a really good boost and we came back, tried to do everything we can to get a win, but it kind of got away from us.”