Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Records: Raptors (20-5); 76ers (17-8)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 6
Time: 6:30 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten1
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
The Jimmy Butler trade from Minnesota to Philadelphia seems to have helped both sides. Since the trade, the 76ers are 8-2 while the Timberwolves have gone 8-3. However, unlike Minnesota, the Philadelphia franchise are serious contenders for the crown of the best team in the Eastern Conference and acquiring the All-Star seems to have helped them find some stability and consistency despite losing two starters in exchange for Butler.
Note: Prior to Butler, the 76ers were 9-6.
Ten games is a decent sample size and it's fair to say that Butler has impacted the team positively on both ends of the floor. He's taken the team's offense from a 106.6 (19th-best) to a 112.3 rating (6th-best) while the defense has marginally dipped from 106.7 to 106.9 defensive rating. In the pre-Butler era in Philadelphia, the team's offense struggled in the fourth quarter and while it hasn't taken a huge leap after his acquisition, the All-Star is making sure the team comes out victorious.
In his 10-game stint with the team, he's already knocked down two game-winners, one in Charlotte:
and the other in Brooklyn:
If you discount the Butler's debut with the team in Orlando, the 76ers are 8-1 in their last nine games and they now carry that momentum to Toronto to face-off against the league's best team - the 20-5 Raptors. They are certainly capable of beating the Toronto franchise but it would require their Big 3 of Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to be on the same page as they have been over the past nine games.
Speaking of the Raptors, the team has just been dominant so far.
Their 20 wins so far have only come through streaks of six, six and eight. They are only one of two teams in the league to rank in the Top 10 in offensive (third behind the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors) and defensive rating (8th). In terms of point differential department, they rank second (8.3), only behind the Bucks (10.1). They are also ranked second in the net rating category (7.7), once again behind only the Bucks.
Having said that, they will be attempting to bounce back in this game after a tough loss against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
One clear advantage that the Raptors have over the 76ers is their depth. Even with Norman Powell sidelined for this game, Toronto's roster is far deeper and far less reliant on their starters to create seperation with their opponents. In addition, the team from Canada has talent in abundance to defend Philly's big stars - Embiid (Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas), Simmons (Kawhi Leonard/ OG Anunoby) and Butler (Danny Green/ Kawhi Leonard/ OG Anunoby).
Even with all their stats and depth, so far this season, the Raptors have gone 2-2 against their Conference's top teams - Milwaukee, Philly, and Boston, which makes this game a mouth-watering contest to look forward to.
Last Time They Played
Date: Oct. 31, 2018
Score: Raptors 129, 76ers 112
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 31 points, seven points, four assists, four steals
76ers: Joel Embiid - 31 points, 11 rebounds, four assists