3 storylines to watch as Sixers seek split in Raptors mini-series


The 20-11 Sixers will wrap up their first-half road schedule Tuesday night when they play the 16-15 Raptors in Tampa Bay.

Here are the essentials:

  • When: 7:30 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:45 p.m. 
  • Where: Amalie Arena  
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Hoping for a normal night 

Though the Raptors defended Joel Embiid well Sunday, holding him to a 6-for-20 shooting night in a 110-103 Toronto win, the Sixers chalked up much of their loss to missing good shots. 

“Whenever you play them, they trap a lot,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “They did that. I thought Joel overall handled the traps perfectly. We ended up getting great shots, just couldn’t make any tonight. ... He said walking off to me, ‘I had a hundred good looks tonight, the ball just wouldn’t go in.’ 

“There’s nights like that. I thought a lot of our guys had great looks tonight; the problem was they weren’t going in. And I thought the misses started mounting up as far as how we were handling it, so we’ve got to do a better job of handling misses — because that’s going to happen in a game.” 

Indeed, the Sixers were 4 for 21 on three-pointers classified as “wide open” by NBA.com/Stats. If the Raptors continue to aggressively double team Embiid and ask other players to beat them, the Sixers will likely need better performances from players like Tobias Harris and Seth Curry. 

Will Lowry return?

The Sixers have close to a clean injury report, with Curry the only name listed besides two-way players Paul Reed and Rayjon Tucker, who have been in the G League bubble with the 7-1 Delaware Blue Coats. Curry is probable with a left ankle sprain.

Kyle Lowry, a possible name to monitor for the Sixers before the March 25 trade deadline, is questionable because of a sprained left thumb. He’s missed Toronto’s last three games, all victories. In fact, the Raptors are 16-0 in their past 16 games without Lowry.

It’s a head-scratching statistic, especially given that Toronto’s net rating has been better with Lowry on the floor than off it during the last three seasons, per Cleaning the Glass.

How many All-Stars? 

The seven All-Star reserves from each conference will be announced at 7 p.m. on TNT.

Ben Simmons has bolstered his case by averaging 22.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.8 steals over a stellar last eight games.

Harris has posted 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season. His efficiency — 51.3 percent from the floor, 40.3 percent on three-pointers, 89.4 percent at the foul line — has been especially impressive. He acknowledged in a recent interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick that it “pisses me off” that he’s not considered a third star for the Sixers.

The Eastern Conference’s field of potential All-Stars is competitive and Embiid has played at an MVP level, so perhaps some head coaches will think three Sixers All-Stars is too many. We’ll know one way or the other before tip-off. 

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