Raptors brace for visit from Sixers, Joel Embiid

Sports

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid will be out to test a tough Toronto Raptors defense Sunday night when the teams meet in the opener of a two-game set in Tampa.

Embiid is coming off a career-best 50-point game Friday in a 112-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls. The 76ers have won two in a row after losing three straight.

The Raptors have won three in a row. They beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 86-81 on Friday night to match their fewest points allowed in a game this season. They defeated the Miami Heat 101-81 on Jan. 22.

Both the 76ers and Raptors did not play at their best on Friday.

Embiid, who also had 17 rebounds, five assists and four blocks against the Bulls, had help from Tobias Harris, who had 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

“It’s rare when you say this, but we needed every point tonight,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “You know, we struggled. Other than really Tobias and Joel, we just couldn’t get anything going. We were having one of those nights. …Those two guys put us on their backs tonight and won the game for us.”

The Raptors held Minnesota to 35 points in the first half before being outscored 29-13 in the third quarter to fall behind by six points. Terence Davis, who had not played all game, entered in the fourth quarter and scored 11 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 30.8 seconds remaining and the clinching two free throws with 18.8 left.

Stanley Johnson also did not play until the fourth and contributed a steal and two rebounds. Davis and Johnson each contributed more than 11 minutes in the fourth quarter for a team that was playing its second game in two nights.

“I kind of just really wanted that energy burst from Stan, and then I kind of said, well, let’s just get both of them in there and see what happens,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “So luckily it turned out. They both impacted the game greatly, and obviously Terence did it big time.”

The Raptors, who started the season 2-8, are 15-15.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to be complaining about getting pretty wins,” said Fred VanVleet, who had 12 points and seven rebounds Friday. “A win is a win and we’ve got to take them. … I thought we just stuck with it and, obviously, we got a big boost there at the end and was able to pull it out.”

Norman Powell had a season-best 31 points for Toronto on Friday, 22 in the first half.

The Raptors were without OG Anunoby (load management) and Kyle Lowry (sprained thumb) on Friday.

Embiid had 29 points and grabbed 16 rebounds despite missing several minutes of the third quarter with a leg injury on Dec. 29 when Philadelphia defeated Toronto 100-93 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.

The 76ers were without Ben Simmons for the second straight game on Friday. Rivers said on Wednesday that he thought Simmons had a stomach flu. Simmons had a career-best 42 points and added 12 assists and nine rebounds Monday in a 134-123 loss to the Utah Jazz.

Shake Milton (sprained left ankle) has missed five straight games for Philadelphia. Milton participated in a scrimmage on Friday. “Shake looked great (Friday),” Rivers said. “I would anticipate seeing Shake next game.”

–Field Level Media

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