Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers Pick & Prediction MARCH 31st 2024

Philadelphia 76ers coach Nick Nurse and guard Kyle Lowry will bring a reminder of better times when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Nurse and Lowry played key roles in the Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship.

The depleted Raptors (23-50) have since fallen, and they take a 12-game losing streak into their clash with the 76ers (39-35).

The Raptors have been beset with injuries to players such as Scottie Barnes (hand) and Jakob Poeltl (finger). They also have been without Immanuel Quickley (personal) and RJ Barrett, whose younger brother died. Barrett returned to practice with the Raptors this week but no date has been set for him to return to game play.

The 76ers also have had injuries, most notably to Joel Embiid (knee). Embiid is with the 76ers on their road trip that started with a 117-114 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

It is not certain when Embiid will return to competition, but Nurse feels that it could be before the end of the regular season.

“That’s always a positive for the team, that you see him around,” Nurse said. “And they know he must be moving forward.”

Meanwhile, on Friday the 76ers continued their trend of losing close games.

They have had two consecutive losses in which they had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final seconds. They lost 108-107 to the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Wednesday.

“We’ve just got to close those games out,” said Tyrese Maxey, who missed the potential game-tying 3-pointer against the Cavaliers to complete a 7-for-26 shooting performance. “That’s two games in a row that we should have won.”

Maxey finished with 16 points. Lowry led Philadelphia with 23 points and Tobias Harris scored 21.

Philadelphia also can anticipate the possible returns of Robert Covington and De’Anthony Melton. Nurse, however, warned about the adjustments required when players return to the lineup.

“Everybody just thinks, ‘We’re back and everything should be perfect,'” Nurse said. “And it doesn’t work that way. It usually messes you up again for a little bit, until you get that figured out and get the connectivity pieces put back together.”

Philadelphia has won all three games against Toronto this season. Nurse joined the 76ers after he was fired by the Raptors at the end of last season.

The Raptors are coming off a 145-101 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

The performance from the Raptors was not up to par, according to coach Darko Rajakovic, and the game also emphasized Toronto’s need for more size.

“It was a little bit of effort but, when somebody’s twice your size, there is not much that you can do, especially (on things) like rebounding,” Rajakovic said.

“They got 16 offensive rebounds and when (seven-foot center) Mitchell Robinson checked in on the court, he looked like a giant out there.”

The 44-point difference against the Knicks was the worst home loss in Raptors franchise history, surpassing a 139-98 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on March 5 in Toronto’s first game of the current losing streak.

“It’s not as much about points when we get a tough loss like this,” said Gradey Dick, who scored a career-best 23 points on Wednesday.

“But you take away the loss in the game, and think about me as a rookie, and what I’ve been trying to achieve as my dream as a little kid, it is cool to think about, that I was able to put up some points.”

Toronto lost Ochai Agbaji (right hip contusion) in the first quarter on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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