The Raptors (2-3) have won five of their last six games against the 76ers (2-2), including the last three trips to the Wachovia Center. Toronto opened the season with a 106-97 home win over Philadelphia on Oct. 31.
The Raptors followed that victory with a 106-69 rout of New Jersey on Nov. 2, appearing to pick up where they left off after winning their first Atlantic Division title last season. However, their offense started to struggle and now they’re trying to avoid their first four-game skid since Dec. 6-11.
Toronto has been held to an average of 92.0 points over the last three games while shooting 38.7 percent from the field, compared to 49.4 percent during its 2-0 start.
The Raptors shot 38.2 percent from the floor and 6-for-20 from 3-point range Wednesday in a 105-96 loss to Orlando.
“We have to do a better job of concentrating on getting to the bucket,” Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. “We’re settling for a lot of jump shots and everybody on the team is falling victim to that.”
Bosh has been hampered by a nagging left knee injury suffered in the preseason and is off to a poor start. He leads the Raptors with 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, but those are well below his averages of the last two seasons when he was an All-Star.
Maybe his performance Wednesday showed he’s getting on track. He scored a season-high 26 points and tied a season high with 10 rebounds, one night after scoring only one point and playing less than 16 minutes in a blowout loss at Milwaukee.
Bosh scored 16 points in the season-opening win over the Sixers, and has averaged 27.0 points in his last three visits to Philadelphia.
The Raptors also are getting uneven performances from center Andrea Bargnani. He started the season with 20 points against Philadelphia and scored 21 at New Jersey, showing some of the promise that made him last year’s first overall draft pick. However, Bargnani was held to a combined 14 points over the next two games before contributing 16 points and eight rebounds on Wednesday.
The 76ers enter the third contest of a four-game homestand looking to build on their best performance of the season, a 94-63 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday.
“I don’t think we take Charlotte any less than we do Toronto,” Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We have to go out and we have to defend the way we are capable of defending and rebound the way we are capable of rebounding. We have to take each game independently.”
Philadelphia is among the league leaders with 47.5 rebounds per game, while Toronto is among the worst teams with a 37.8 average.
Reggie Evans’ 10.0 rebounding average leads the Sixers and the one-dimensional power forward grabbed 15 boards in the first meeting with Toronto. Philadelphia acquired him in a three-player trade with Denver in September, hoping he could improve its average of 39.7 rebounds per game last season, which ranked only better than the Raptors (39.5) and Bucks (39.2) in the Eastern Conference.