Sixers Look For First Win of Season Against Raptors

Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and the 5-3 Toronto Raptors visit the Wells Fargo Center tonight to take on the Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers will look for their first win of the season when they take on Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry, and the Toronto Raptors | Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers will look for their first win of the season when they take on Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry, and the Toronto Raptors | Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers will look to get their first win of the season against the Toronto Raptors tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers will do so short-handed, as Nerlens Noel will miss his second consecutive game with a sore wrist. Forward Robert Covington, working his way back from a knee sprain, will also not be ready, although Sixers head coach Brett Brown says he could be closer to making a return.

In Noel’s absence, the 76ers will need another monster game from rookie Jahlil Okafor. Okafor finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds against the Bulls, although he did so on just 9-25 shooting from the field. The Raptors are a very good offensive rebounding team, so the Sixers will need another strong effort from Okafor on the glass.

The Sixers also learned before the game that they would likely be without rookie big man Richaun Holmes, who suffered a strained hamstring in warmups. In response, Sixers head coach is likely to start Isaiah Canaan at the shooting guard position, pushing Jerami Grant to the power forward spot.

The Sixers have some more injury updates: guards Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall had been sent to the Delaware 87ers NBA Development League affiliate. The move was done so Wroten and Marshall could get a full practice in rather than be limited to the shootaround session the Sixers held today. They will not play for the 87ers at this time, and were back with the 76ers before tonight’s game. Brown expects that the pair will go back and forth between Philadelphia and Delaware a few times to maximize their training.

Nerlens Noel, who is out with a sore wrist, tried to give it a go at shootaround before the game today, but Brown said he is not ready, and they want to have Noel ready for the packed schedule they have coming up.

Finally, Brown said before the game that Robert Covington is not likely to be ready for Saturday’s game against San Antonio, a date Brown had previously said they were targeting. Brown said that Saturday was “probably a day too soon.”

The Details:

What: Raptors (5-3) @ 76ers (0-7)

Where: Wells Fargo Center:

When: 7 PM

Watch: Comcast SportsNet

Projected Starting Lineups: 

Sixers: T.J. McConnell, Isaiah Canaan, Nik Stauskas, Jerami Grant, Jahlil Okafor

Raptors: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Jonas Valanciunas

(Note: Official starting lineups are released approximately an hour before the game).

Injury Report:

Joel Embiid (out, right foot), Kendall Marshall (out, right ACL), Tony Wroten (out, right ACL), Carl Landry (out, wrist), Robert Covington (out, sprained knee), Nerlens Noel (out, sore wrist), Richaun Holmes (out, hamstring).

About The Opponent:

Normally, you wouldn’t give the Sixers much of a chance in this game. The Raptors outclass the Sixers from a talent perspective, and Kyle Lowry is a bad matchup for the Sixers crop of point guards.

But the Raptors have been on a little bit of a skid of late, losing their last three after starting the season off 5-0. The Raptors are also on the tail end of a back-to-back, having played in New York last night. Over the last three games, Kyle Lowry has been in a bit of a funk, shooting just 36% from the field during that span.

With Noel out, Okafor will have his hands full once again. The Raptors are 5th in the league in offensive rebounding, collecting 27.4% of their rebounding opportunities on the offensive glass, and are first in the league in getting to the free throw line line.

What To Look For:

It’s natural for all eyes to continue to be on rookie Jahlil Okafor, and this is another interesting matchup for the big man. Jonas Valanciunas is a big, strong, seven footer who can have some success keeping Okafor away from the hoop and contesting his shots inside, and he’s an excellent rebounder, and a key part of Toronto’s success on the glass.

This will also be a tough defensive matchup for T.J. McConnell. Lowry’s been struggling, but he has so much going for his game — the physicality, the outside shot, the dribble moves — that McConnell (and Canaan) could be overmatched.

One low-key point of interest will be whether Jerami Grant can continue his resurgence since entering the starting lineup. Grant could see some time defending DeMar DeRozan, who is averaging 22.4 points per game, and getting to the line an incredible 10.3 times per night in the process. It will also be interesting to see whether Nik Stauskas can bounce back from two subpar shooting games. The Raptors do struggle to defend the three point shot (opponents shoot 35.2% from three on the year, which ranks 21st in the league), so perhaps this is a game for Stauskas to get back on track.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine’s new Sixers Post. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.