The Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors meet Monday in NBA preseason action at the Scotiabank Arena. The Philadelphia 76ers enter the second season under Doc Rivers and hope to build on last years 49 wins. The Toronto Raptors finally return home after a year in Tampa, and they’re coming off a 27-win season.
The Philadelphia 76ers enter the season in a very weird space, as they have the talent to come out of the East, but they’re dealing with the Ben Simmons drama. Word is Simmons has demanded a trade and he’s not winning to play the 76ers again, even if that means sitting out the entire year. That promotes Tyrese Maxey to point guard and puts pressure on Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris to step up as the two stars of this team. Outside of the addition of Andre Drummond and the drafting of Jaden Springer in the first round, the 76ers didn’t make any notable moves this offseason. The 76ers can only hope Matisse Thybulle makes a jump entering his third year in the league. There’s potential with the 76ers, but a lot of questions won’t be answered until they move Simmons and get a return.
The Toronto Raptors will look weird without Kyle Lowry at point guard, but the keys have been given to Fred VanVleet in the backcourt. Goran Dragic adds nice veteran depth to the Raptors roster, and the forward tandem of OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam is still around. Obviously, Siakam needs to return to form if the Raptors are going to be a factor in the East again. Gary Trent Jr. will have a full season with the Raptors, which is promising after averaging 16.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15 starts. Scottie Barnes, who was the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft, is an above-average defender and a great distributor who adds high upside to the Raptors roster. I expect the Raptors to be a feisty bunch that tops last years win total.
The 76ers are the better team on paper, but it’s hard to back them with confidence with the dark cloud hanging over them regarding the Simmons situation. The Raptors have a lot of new faces and they should play the bulk of their team in these preseason games in hopes of building chemistry. This is a spot where we could get the Raptors as an underdog and possibly some value.
Give me the Raptors.
Randy Chambers’s Free Pick:
Toronto Raptors (Will update when line is released)