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Saturday, November 10, 7:00 PM (EST) at Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON


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TV: The Comcast Network Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats

NOTE: Comcast SportsNet HD is now on XFinity® Channel 847 

Chat Live At 7:00 PM (EST)

by Warren Croxton and Max Rappaport

Updated: 6:30 PM, November 10, 2012

MATCHUP TO WATCH:

F-C Andrea Bargnani vs. F-C Spencer Hawes

Drafted first overall in 2006, Italian big man Andrea Bargnani has drawn favorable comparisons to German former-MVP Dirk Nowitzki throughout his career. A smooth seven-footer with excellent shooting touch and scoring instincts, Bargnani, now in his seventh season, has averaged 20.8 points per game over the last two seasons combined. The similarities between the two European products are obvious. However, the long-time Raptor's difficulties adjusting to the NBA as a rebounder and defender have hindered his ability to make the jump from very good player to star. 

Spencer Hawes is another skilled seven footer with impressive range. The 23-year-old big man is averaging 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in just 22.8 minutes per night as a reserve. He's shooting 47.1% from the floor and is 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, matching the number of three pointers he made all of last season. He also leads the team in blocked shots, with 2.0 per game and has the highest player efficiency rating, or PER, (20.0) on the team. 

The Key

Andrea Bargnani missed 35 games last season. In 2010-11, he had his best campaign as a pro, averaging 21.4 points per game on 44.8% from the field. During that season, though, he shot just 57.3% on his attempts around the basket (17th among NBA centers), and over the past two seasons, he's attempted the second-most shots at his position from beyond 16 feet (behind only Channing Frye of Phoenix). If the Sixers can apply pressure to Bargnani when he receives the ball away from the basket and force him into the paint, some of his effectiveness on the offensive end can be negated.

 

THE ENEMY:

New Faces

After finishing last season with a 23-43 record (11th in the Eastern Conference), the Toronto Raptors made it a priority to increase the talent level of their squad. They acquired two talented swingmen, one via free agency – Landry Fields (from NYK), and another via the draft – Terrence Ross, selected eighth overall out of Washington. 

Their two biggest additions this offseason, though, were point guard Kyle Lowry, who the team acquired from the Rockets via trade, and center Jonas Valanciunas, who spent all of last season playing for Lithuania's BC Lietuvos rytas after being drafted fifth overall by the Raptors in 2011.

Lowry averaged career highs in points (14.3), rebounds (4.6), and steals (1.6) per game last season. Through the first four games of this season, Lowry has averaged 18.3 points (54.5 FG%, 44.4 3P%), 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 steals.

In five games as the Raptors' new starting center, Jonas Valanciunas has averaged 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in just 20.0 minutes a night. In a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last Tuesday, the 6-11 Lithuanian went 6-of-8 from the field and scored 18 points.

Familiar Faces

Guard Jose Calderon is the Raptors' longest-tenured player, with seven years logged in Toronto. With his team's offseason acquisition of Kyle Lowry, Calderon will come off the bench this season. The Spanish assist artist is third all time in games played for the franchise and ranks in the top five of most offensive categories. He’s also won two sliver medals as a member of the Spanish National Team.

Swingman DeMar DeRozan has averaged 14.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game during his four years as a Raptor. The ninth-overall pick in the 2009 Draft, he’s already climbed into Toronto's top ten in all-time points scored and field goals made.

Injury Bug

According to the Toronto Raptors, starting point guard Kyle Lowry (ankle) and starting small forward Landry Fields (wrist) will both be OUT tonight against Philadelphia. In their places, the Raptors will start veteran point guard Jose Calderon and swingman Alan Anderson.

 

LAST TIME THEY MET

4/11/2012 - Sixers 93, Raptors 75

Leading by six after three quarters, the Sixers outscored the Raptors 30-17 in the final frame to pick up their second-consecutive win and their 31st on the year. Six Sixers scored in double figures, led by forward Thaddeus Young’s 17 points (8-12 FG). forward-center Elton Brand notched 11 points and eight rebounds, while swingman Evan Turner added six points, eight rebounds, and six assists.