Unbeaten at home, 76ers host Raptors next


The Philadelphia 76ers will be looking to improve 12-0 at home when they host the defending-champion Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

The Sixers captured their 11th straight home victory with a 141-94 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Philadelphia built a 41-point lead in the first half without injured guard Josh Richardson (hamstring) and All-Star center Joel Embiid (hip). Both players’ status for Sunday’s game is unclear.

Richardson has missed five consecutive games with this nagging hamstring issue.

“A hamstring is one of those things where you can think that you’re fine, and then you take a wrong step and it’s a week or two-week setback,” Richardson said. “I don’t really want to get into that whole cycle. … It’s just one of those things where I just don’t really know where I’m at most of the time. It always feels like I’m tiptoeing, trying not to do too much.”

Ben Simmons scored a career-high 34 points, including his second career 3-pointer and 26 points in the first half on 11-of-12 shooting, on Saturday. The Sixers’ 41-point margin was the largest halftime lead in franchise history. Mike Scott and Trey Burke each added 21 for the 76ers, who have won nine of 11 overall.

“I just stayed locked in,” said Simmons, who added seven assists, three rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. “Just being aggressive and keeping that mentality.”

“He just was really, really aggressive attacking,” head coach Brett Brown added of Simmons.

The Raptors will enter on a two-game losing streak for the first time this season. They fell 119-109 at home to the Houston Rockets on Thursday despite 24 points from Pascal Siakam, 20 from Fred VanVleet and 19 from Kyle Lowry.

Toronto’s defense wasn’t the issue in the loss. If the Raptors hope for a better result in Philadelphia, their offense must improve.

“I don’t think we played offense well enough,” Toronto head coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought we missed open shots. … A few careless possessions where they scored in transition, so it really had nothing to do with the double teams and offensive rebounding. I think the transition defense is where they did a good job of capitalizing when we turned the ball over.”

VanVleet scored at least 20 points for the sixth time in his past eight games. In addition, VanVleet has scored at least 20 points on 10 occasions this season after accomplishing the feat seven times in his first three seasons combined.

Even with two straight losses, the Raptors are 15-6, despite Lowry and Serge Ibaka being out for multiple games because of injuries. Before the season even began, the Raptors had to deal with significant losses of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Yet their 15-6 mark is the third-best stretch to open a season in franchise history.

“You don’t overreact when you’re 15-4, and you don’t overreact when you’re now 15-6,” Nurse said. “Just get back going to work and taking them as they come, because you’re probably gonna win quite a few games if you put the effort forward, and you’re gonna slip up every now and then because that’s basketball.”

–Field Level Media