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Preview: Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers – February 23, 2021

Photo Credit: Chris O’Maara / AP

The Philadelphia 76ers will visit the Toronto Raptors’ makeshift home court in Tampa, Florida when they match up with them for the second game in a row on Tuesday night. Sunday’s meeting between the two ended in a 110-103 Raptors win.

Despite Toronto’s big win, Philadelphia is still an intimidating outfit, leading the Eastern Conference with a 20-11 record. Superstar center Joel Embiid was recently voted as an All-Star starter and is a leading contender in the league’s MVP race. He’s currently second in the NBA in scoring with 30.3 points-per-game. Complimented by Tobias Harris’ strong offensive output so far this season – registering 20.6 points-per-game – and Ben Simmons’ playmaking and elite defence, many around the NBA expect this team to make a deep playoff run.

Over the last few weeks, the Raptors have shown that they can hang with the top dogs in the East, winning 9 out of their last 12 and beating some of the league’s best teams in the process.

No Raptors have been hotter recently than guard duo Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell. VanVleet has led the team in scoring over the last five games with 21.4 points-per-game and has comfortably taken up playmaking responsibilities in Kyle Lowry’s absence. Powell has been a revelation as a starter, registering 20.8 points-per-game over the last five and shooting 50 per cent from three in that span. Role players like Chris Boucher and DeAndre’ Bembry have taken advantage of increased opportunity with high energy play and good defence.

Toronto’s recent switch to small ball has proven to be very effective on both ends of the floor, successfully countering teams who depend on size, like the Bucks and 76ers. The Raptors’ quick pace and ball movement has created open shots on the perimeter, while pesky double teams and smart switching on defence has made life difficult for some of the opposition’s top scorers.

Kyle Lowry is still questionable to appear in Tuesday’s game, after missing the last three games with a sprained thumb. Toronto is 16-0 this year without the six-time All-Star point guard.

Catch the Raptors’ hunt for a fifth win in a row on Tuesday night at 7:30PM EST on Sportsnet.

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