The Sixers return home tonight against the Toronto Raptors after dropping all three games on a recent road trip. After a 3-0 start they have now lost seven of their last nine games. That is the bad news, the good news is that it appears after missing the past four games point guard Michael Carter-Williams will be back in the starting lineup. Here’s a look at some keys to the game for the Sixers.
* Keep the Raptors off the offensive boards: Toronto is second in the league at grabbing offensive boards at 14 a game. For a team that doesn’t score that well, just 96.9 points a game, that is a huge lift offensively. Conversely, giving up those boards doesn’t allow the Sixers to get out and run and it also takes its toll on the defensive end.
* Pack in the defense: Toronto is not a good outside shooting team, having made just 32.6 percent of its three-point attempts. The Sixers can benefit from this type of defense in a couple of ways. One is by making the Raptors shoot from the outside it negates the way they like to score, with Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas. It also will allow the Sixers to rebound the ball and get out on their fastbreak.
* Ride the return of Michael-Carter Williams: “I’m ready to go,” is what the rookie said at this morning’s shootaround after a sprained arch in his left foot sidelined him. He thinks he’ll probably go, but that decision ultimately belongs to someone else. If he does return it will be a huge boost for a team that has struggled offensively the past three games.
* Keep getting solid effort from Tony Wroten: He will probably head back to the bench tonight after averaging 19.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4 rebounds as a starter for MCW. No matter what his status is – starter or reserve – he needs to keep providing the energy, if not the starters, that he did as a starter.
* Keep the turnover total down: They have been doing a better job of this of late, but there are still way too many careless and unforced turnovers. Their style of play looks so much better the more possessions they get. Turnovers are going to happen at the fast pace, but needless ones have to be eliminated.