NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 9th (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia 76ers (17-60) at Toronto Raptors (45-32), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors are still battling for that third spot in the Eastern Conference and will host the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday from Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors are even with the Chicago Bulls in the No. 3 slot with five games to play and also have a two-game game lead on the Brooklyn Nets for an Atlantic Division title.
Chicago hopes to stay locked in with a trip to Minnesota Wednesday.
Toronto has won three in a row and six of its last seven games, including Saturday's 102-98 triumph at Milwaukee in which Greivis Vasquez poured in a game-high 26 points and DeMar DeRozan added 23. Jonas Valanciunas contributed a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds for Toronto, which made eight straight free throws in the final minute to hold off the Bucks.
The Raptors had a 28-22 lead after the first quarter, but Milwaukee recorded a 34-19 difference over the next 12 minutes. The Raptors needed a total team effort in the second half and set a franchise record for road wins in a season with 21.
"A team that is going to the playoffs playing to win a division can not have excuses," Vasquez said of the slow start from Toronto. "We got the win. Ugly, pretty, it was a win."
Vasquez made 6-of-8 3-pointers and the Raptors have hit at least 10 from beyond the arc in each of the past three games. They are 21-8 when making 10 or more from downtown.
Toronto guard Kyle Lowry missed his third straight game with a knee injury and is questionable Wednesday. Lowry scored at least 19 points from March 9-26 (22.5 ppg), but is posting 12.0 ppg in his past three.
The Raptors are 17-8 since the All-Star break and 38-20 since trading Rudy Gay in December, and have a chance to pass the team record of 47 wins set in 2006-07 and 2000-01. A big reason for the turnaround has been All-Star DeRozan, who is averaging 23.5 points since the break.
DeRozan needs one assist to become the second player in Raptors history to record at least 1,700 points and 300 assists in the same season. Vince Carter had 2,107 points and 322 assists during the 1999-00 campaign.
Toronto will also welcome the New York Knicks to town, have won four in a row at home and are 24-14 at Air Canada Centre.
Philadelphia will begin its final road trip of the season, a three-game jaunt through Toronto, Memphis and Charlotte.
The 76ers snapped a 13-game road losing streak with a win at Boston last Friday and are 8-29 away from home. They are 2-3 overall since snapping a 26- game losing streak and dropped a 105-101 decision to Brooklyn at home on Saturday. Thaddeus Young scored 20 points, Hollis Thompson added 18 and Tony Wroten chipped in 15 off the bench in defeat.
Philly shot a decent 46 percent, while the Nets led by as many as 21 points in the second half but stumbled down the stretch. Mirza Teletovic drilled a 3- pointer from the right wing for a 99-95 margin with 48.9 seconds to play, and Brooklyn hit 6-of-6 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds to hang on.
"We were trying to come back and win, no matter if they had the bench, the starters, or who they had," said Wroten. "No matter who they had out there, we're trying to win regardless."
Thompson made a career-best 6-of-8 from 3-point range for the Sixers, who have scored 100 or more points in three of the last five games (104.6 ppg) after failing to reach the century mark in a season-high nine straight games.
The 76ers are allowing an NBA-high 109.9 points this season and have lost the first three meetings with Toronto this season. The Raptors have never swept a season series from the Sixers.
These two Atlantic Division foes have split the last 16 meetings at Toronto.
DeRozan is averaging 31.3 points against the Sixers this season (3 games), while Young is posting an average of 17.0 ppg in two meetings with Toronto.
04/09 10:23:12 ET