Raptors seek fifth straight victory over 76ers
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The Toronto Raptors will be looking to continue their recent mastery of the Philadelphia 76ers when the teams square off Monday afternoon in Philadelphia.
Toronto has won the last four meetings, three this season, and 18 of the last 19. The only Sixers victory during that stretch was a 94-89 verdict on Jan. 18, 2017.
This season, the Raptors have beaten Philadelphia 128-94 on Oct. 21, 114-109 on Dec. 21 and 102-86 on Dec. 23. In the second of those games, the Raptors wiped out a 22-point third-quarter deficit behind a 45-point explosion from DeMar DeRozan.
Toronto, which at 29-12 owns the Eastern Conference's second-best record, nearly crawled out of a 27-point hole before falling 127-125 to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. DeRozan, seventh in the league in scoring at 25.4 points per game, notched 42 in that loss, but he and his teammates were fuming after some officiating decisions went the Warriors' way in the final minute.
"It's frustrating being out there feeling like you're playing five-on-eight," he told the Toronto Star. "It's just what it feels like, period. Some of them calls were terrible, period."
Raptors coach Dwane Casey was encouraged by the fact that his team "really, really competed at a high level" in the second half.
"They're a great team, don't get me wrong," he told the Star. "No disrespect to Golden State, but we did not compete with the confidence and swagger we've got to have in the first half."
The Sixers (19-20) have had problems holding leads all season. They went up by 22 against the Boston Celtics last Thursday in London, only to see the East leaders storm back for a 114-103 victory, and general manager Bryan Colangelo told Philly.com that consistency is the main issue.
"What do we need right now, short of making a significant trade?" he said. "I think it's just consistency health-wise, consistency preparation-wise, consistency performance-wise. And, again, it's early. Less than half the season has been played. There's been some highs. There's been some lows thus far."
The Sixers are still awaiting the return of guard Markelle Fultz. The top overall pick in last summer's draft has missed all but four games with a shoulder injury, and he is not expected to play Monday, either. Reporters at practice Sunday witnessed him shooting his jumper with the same flawed form he displayed during his limited action earlier this season.
"I think what he needs to be is able to shoot a basketball," coach Brett Brown said, according to Phillyvoice.com. "I don't know what percent we're going to apply that comment, but he needs to feel he can go and shoot a basketball.
"To just render it that the free throw is pretty good, and it is, and to only go that far without talking about some of the other pieces, is not what we are looking at, and I know he isn't looking at that."
Toronto has been without guard Kyle Lowry, a Philadelphia native, the last three games because of a bruised tailbone and lower-back soreness. His status for Monday's game is not known.
Updated January 14, 2018