Friday, December 1, 2023
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NBA Preview: Toronto Raptors (2-3) at Philadelphia Sixers (2-1)

The new-look Philadelphia 76ers will host the Toronto Raptors on Thursday in their first game since trading away James Harden.

The Sixers sent Harden, Filip Petrusev and P.J. Tucker to the Los Angeles Clippers in a complicated three-team deal that also included the Oklahoma City Thunder. Philadelphia acquired Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Marcus Morris Sr. from the Clippers.

The trade, officially announced Wednesday after news broke late Monday night, also involved a variety of draft picks and pick swaps.

For now, the Sixers will look markedly different, though Harden did not suit up in any of the team’s first three games following his offseason falling out with Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

It is unclear if the newest Sixers will be available to play against the Raptors.

Without Harden, Tyrese Maxey excelled in the first three games and was rewarded with his first career NBA Player of the Week award. Maxey averaged 30.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Maxey hit 50 percent of his field-goal attempts, 56 percent of his 3-point attempts and 91 percent of his free-throw attempts in the season’s first week.

Joel Embiid, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, was a finalist for the weekly award. In the Sixers’ most recent game, a 126-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, he had 35 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and six blocked shots.

The Raptors will look to avenge an earlier loss to the Sixers when they travel to Philadelphia. The 76ers prevailed 114-107 behind 34 points from Embiid.

On Wednesday, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam scored 26 points, Dennis Schroder added 24 points and 11 assists and Scottie Barnes had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Raptors blitzed the visiting Milwaukee Bucks 130-111.

OG Anunoby contributed 16 points for Toronto, while Jakob Poeltl had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Barnes has scored 20 points or more in four straight games for the first time in his young career.

First-year Raptorss coach Darko Rajakovic said that he was especially pleased with Anunoby’s performance on both ends of the court.

The ultimate result was the Raptors’ second win in five games this season.

It was close to perfect.

Or was it?

Still, the Raptors played with a lot more energy, which was a point of emphasis. Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa missed his second consecutive game because of a strained left groin. Achiuwa left the Saturday loss to the Sixers and has not returned. It was unclear if he would be available to play on Thursday.

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