76ers-Raptors Preview

The Associated Press

The last-place Toronto Raptors more than held their own over a two-week stretch before coming undone over the weekend.

Coach Dwane Casey is hoping to see his team regain some of that luster during what he believes is a crucial set of games.

The Raptors try to pick up a rare win over the Atlantic Division-rival Philadelphia 76ers, who don't appear too excited about heading back out on the road Wednesday night.

Toronto (12-22) had given up an average of 90.4 points while winning eight of nine before dropping its last two games. The Raptors fell 105-96 to Sacramento on Friday, then dropped to 0-16 when allowing at least 100 points with a 104-92 defeat to Oklahoma City two days later.

"There are so many things we can do better as far as the mental part of the game," Casey said. "We gotta learn from playing against a team like (the Thunder), but we can't lose our mojo. We gotta get our mojo back here in the next couple days and get ready for this coming week."

Toronto, which plays Charlotte and Milwaukee after this contest to conclude a season-high six-game homestand, is first looking to get back on track versus Philadelphia (15-21).

"Every week is big, every game is big, but these three are Eastern Conference teams that we're gonna be facing, especially with Philly coming in," Casey added. "I think that's the most important thing coming up right now is this one game. ... We wanna make sure we take care of business (Wednesday) night."

The Raptors have dropped three straight and six of seven to the 76ers, falling 93-83 on Nov. 10, and 106-98 on the road 10 days later.

While the 76ers concluded November four games above .500 after limiting foes to an average of 94.0 points, it's since been a bumpy ride. Philadelphia has allowed 99.3 points per game while going 5-15 since the start of December - including a 2-11 record in opposing arenas.

The 76ers suffered six of those losses on their recently completed season-high eight-game road trip and couldn't keep up in a brief return home Tuesday, falling 109-89 to Brooklyn. Jrue Holiday - the only starter to reach double figures - had 19 points and eight assists for Philadelphia, which saw its skid reach four after getting outscored 35-14 in the third quarter.

"I thought we were an incredibly tired team, I think we played that way," coach Doug Collins said. "No rest for the weary. Got to get on a plane and go to Toronto."

The 76ers, who lost a season-worst five straight Dec. 12-19, were outrebounded 50-32 and went just 6 for 10 from the free throw line Tuesday. They're averaging an NBA-low 14.7 free-throw attempts since Dec.12.

"I've never seen anything like it," a baffled Collins said of his team's inability to get to the foul line.

Philadelphia is 10-7 when attempting at least 19 free-throws and 5-14 when failing to reach that mark. Fortunately for the 76ers, the Raptors have put opponents on the line a league-high 928 times.

With Andrea Bargnani still sidelined due to a ligament tear in his right elbow, Toronto continues to rely heavily on DeMar DeRozan. The fourth-year guard is averaging 21.5 points against Philadelphia this season but has been limited to a combined 25 on 7-of-27 shooting in his last two games.

The 76ers, though, need to be wary of reserve Alan Anderson, who scored 20 points against the Kings and a career-high 27 on 10-of-14 from the field against the Thunder.

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