Sixers fall north of the border

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Toronto 113, Philadelphia 105 – Box Score

Poythress, Long, Anderson, these were not the names sold to Sixers fans at the beginning of the season as the start of a new era in Philadelphia basketball. But such is life in the dog days of April for a Sixers franchise more concerned with ensuring the Knicks don’t end up with more lottery balls than whether they finish on top of the scoreboard.

With the injury report reading like what Sixers fans hope Matt Cord calls out for the 2017-18 opening night starting lineup (Embiid, Simmons, Covington), the game itself went about how you might have anticipated under the circumstances. The remaining players acquitted themselves reasonably well, never letting the game get entirely out of hand. But a big second-quarter surge put the Raptors in front by double digits and the end result was never really in question. In particular, trade deadline acquisition Serge Ibaka had a big game against the thin Sixers front line, accruing 24 points and 6 blocks in just 28 minutes.

Battling a sore heel, Dario Saric finished with 16 points, playing right on the nose of his 24-minute guideline. How much of the guideline is actually due to the injury and how much is due to Saric’s play in recent months actually helping the team to unneeded wins seems irrelevant. Either way, it makes sense, and I understand him wanting to play a full season, both to bolster his Rookie of the Year case and to further silence the critics who said he would never come over.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was the Sixers star of the evening, recording a career-high for the second-straight game with 23 points. The shooting continues to improve, as TLC knocked down 3 of 7 shots from behind the arc. He also was as aggressive as I’ve seen him attacking the rim, hitting 6-6 from the charity stripe. The Sixers really look to have found a keeper at a much-needed wing position. I’m excited to watch him settle into a rotational role next year with a full complement of talent around him.

Signed from the D-league under the hardship exemption, Alex Poythress made his NBA debut, finishing with 10 points in 24 minutes. Hard to judge a guy when he basically met his teammates upon arriving to the arena, but I liked his energy out on the floor. A former McDonald’s All-American, Poythress was once a highly-regarded prospect before slipping as *gasp* a guy who actually hung around at Kentucky for a full college career. I don’t hate the idea of getting a look at him in these meaningless April contests.

The news of the night elsewhere was the Lakers getting a rare win against Memphis, moving them ahead of Phoenix in the standings by a half game. That flip-flop shifts the chance of the Sixers receive the LA pick this summer from 44.2% to 53.1%. Let’s hope the baby Lakers have one more win in them and the Suns’ 12-game losing streak keeps going. The Sixers sit between New York and Orlando with the 5th-worst record in the league; another big “tanking test” comes tomorrow night against Brooklyn.

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