Raptors come into Philly winners of 3 of the last 4. They are hotter than Sixers who have been in a free fall from the top of the Atlantic Division. The Sixers currently are doomed to face the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. They have lost 16 of their last 17 including playoffs vs Miami. So anything they can do to avoid that would be advisable. They sit as mentioned in our preview just a game and half back of both Boston and Hawks. If they can catch one of those two teams they can avoid Miami. The Hawks also will play the Raptors in back to coming up later in the month. So the Sixers after next Wednesday will become big Raptor fans for a weekend as they play Hawks. They Raptors are winning their way potentially down the draft board. It has tank nation all upset. How dare this team actually win games. But the reality is they top 3 positions in terms of the draft lottery have been locked up so it is not as huge an issue for most. In the end it is a lottery so the Raptors just need the winning ticket regardless of how many they hold.
Raptors starting 10 day contract guy Alan Anderson. Yeah it is that time of year folks. Raptors commit a turnover to start and Sixers turn that into two points. Bargnani nails a jumper and honestly the potential for a big night for him is there as Sixers have no one to really match-up with him. Teams were trading buckets like crazy early tied at 6 just two minutes into this one. Raptors were continuing to flex their muscles on offense but still not showing much for their improved defense in a 15-14 shootout that they were leading and their was still 6:43 to play in the first. This game showed little sign of either team being interested in playing defense which given the coaching match-up was surprising. Raptors gave up the lead but Andrea Bargnani had a chance to get it back at the line with 4:01 to play in the first. He would do just that making it 23-22 with still those four minutes to play. In the end Raptors D was a train wreck allowing the Sixers to own the paint and shoot 65% and they had a 31-29 lead after one.
The scoring barrage for both sides slowed down to a large extent. This was continuing to be a tight affair as Bargnani broke a 39-39 tie but it was short lived as brand quickly answered. Jose Calderon was cut and will see if he has some inner Rocky Balboa in him and comes back. He for not was back in the locker room and getting stitched up. Sixers after his departure started to build a lead with the score 49-44 with 3:05 to play in the half. Still no one was very interested in D and Raptors were scoring their way back into and retake the lead on a DeRozan score and one to give the Raptors a 53-51 lead. As he has done many times before Jrue Holiday would rain on the Raptors parade nailing a late three to give the Sixers a 56-55 halftime lead.
Jose Calderon is the proud new owner of 4 new stitches and is back for the 2nd half. Raptors after giving up the first basket fired off a few and had a 62-58 lead. It was still clearly a defense optional game at this point for both teams. Demar DeRozan has a frustrating sequence he felt he deserved a foul call and didn't get it, then he goes up for a lob that was too high and has a crash landing. He was fine but his pride was taking a beating on that position along with his body. After the Sixers tied the game Alan Anderson showing he would like to stick around nailing a three to make it 65-62 Raptors. His ten day contract will end tomorrow. DeRozan made a crazy fader in the opposite corner from the ominous Vince Carter. It was only a two for Demar but he had 13 points and continues his consistent play and The Raptors were starting to pull away. Bargnani would get a chance at a rare four point play and he would convert and give the Raptors a 8 point lead. Lou Williams hit a big needed three for the Sixers to get them back in shouting distance down 75-71 with 2:36 to play in 3rd. Amir Johnson with a big slam and Raptors had a 6 point advantage in the final minute of the 3rd. DeRozan would add to that make it an eight point advantage. He would try to make it 11 with a buzzer three but no dice. Raptors lead 79-71 and will face a Sixers team in bad need of this win in the 4th.
Raptors were the team playing like they had something to fight for in this one. Linas opened the scoring to get Raptors lead to double digits at 81-71. Sixers finally started to come to realization they need to win this game with a couple baskets. This is followed by a very stupid foul on Evan Turner on Demar DeRozan shooting a three. We all know the rule on fouling a three point shooter but that almost doubles when it is DeRozan. He has improved at long range but is no where close to entering the three point shoot out. Raptors would take the gift and the 9 point lead 84-75 with 7:15 to go. Raptors are winning so you know something bad has to happen for it to be a typical Raptor game right. Demar DeRozan turns his left ankle. Raptors did have a 10 point lead and the Philly fans were not exactly backing the home side. Raptors lead was growing as the boos were growing in volume towards the Sixers. A Calderon jumper made the Raptor lead 14 with score 90-76 and Doug Collins calls a time out. Raptors were rolling the Sixers one can only imagine what Miami will do to this team in the playoffs. The Raptors roll 99-78 and leave Philly searching for answers.
I said before this season started that the Raptors would win 20 games. At the time people thought I was insane. Well welcome to win number 20 and the Raptors looking like they might win a few more. Dwane Casey is the biggest reason the Raptors have gotten to this point. The Raptors now have a clear identity and although we didn't see a lot of that on this night in terms of defense we did see a lot of offense coming from some of the key pieces moving forward. Andrea Bargnani has another solid offensive game and is starting to become the same type of threat he was earlier in the season. On defense and rebounding not as much. Demar DeRozan before having to sit with the ankle also looked good. Alan Anderson with no Gary Forbes or James Johnson playing on this night likely earned himself another 10 day contract. It is a shame that all of this comes at a time when most have lost interest or are more frustrated by the wins than happy. Still it makes you hopefully for next season regardless just based on the pieces the Raptors will have coming back and what they are doing. Chances the Raptors stretch this to four in a row is high playing the Cavs who they are 3-0 against and are struggling with a massive losing streak of late. Raptors only won 22 games in a complete 82 game schedule last season. It would seem likely they will at worst match that number this year in just 66 games.