Sixers-Raptors 5 Things: Thinking Big While Going for 3rd Straight Win

The Sixers (6-18) return to Philadelphia to open up a four-game homestand against the Toronto Raptors (17-7) at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night (7 p.m./CSN, and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

1. Thinking big
After winning consecutive road games for the first time in nearly two years, the Sixers are back home with something they haven't had in an even longer time period: a full allotment of big men.

Even with Nerlens Noel nursing an ankle sprain he suffered in his season debut Sunday, the Sixers finally have all three of their lottery pick centers working together at once.

Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor each bring different aspects to the court and the Sixers are eager to see how they work with one another.

“I really look forward to this,” Brett Brown said Tuesday after practice. “We are at a stage where our program is one that is still very much in the experimentation phases.”

Brown will have to wait until Friday, however, as Noel will miss tonight's game with an ankle injury.

2. Guard-gantuan production
While the Sixers are following the lead of their big men, the Raptors go as their star-studded backcourt takes them.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are among the NBA's best guard tandems, and have taken things to a new level this season.

Lowry and DeRozan are combining to average 49.1 points, 11.5 assists, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.

Opponents have mostly failed to contain the two since they joined forces in 2012. Even when you hold one in check like the Sixers did to DeRozan in the season's first meeting (14 points), the other can still carry the load. In that game, a 122-95 Toronto win, the Philly native Lowry torched his hometown team with 24 points (7 of 9 shooting, 6 of 6 on three-pointers), eight assists and four rebounds.

3. Beyond the border
If you were asked which team leads the NBA in three-point shooting, your first guess would likely be the Golden State Warriors. Possibly the Cleveland Cavaliers. Maybe even the Houston Rockets.

All wrong. The Raptors currently hold the slimmest of margins over the Cavs and San Antonio Spurs as the league's best three-point shooting team at 40.1 percent.

Even with DeRozan shooting a lowly 29.3 percent from deep, Toronto has been able to rise to the top in that department. That's mainly because the Raptors have five players shooting above the league average of 35.4 percent on triples, including three above 40 percent: Lowry at 43.9, Terrence Ross at 46.1 and Norman Powell at 48.6.

The Sixers have done a decent job defending three-pointers this season with opponents shooting 34.4 percent, the 10th-lowest mark in the league. But after allowing the Raptors to make 13 of 19 threes (68.4 percent) in the season's first meeting, the Sixers should be on alert for the long-distance shooters.

4. Injuries
Noel (ankle), Jerryd Bayless (wrist) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Bruno Caboclo (knee) is a game-time decision. Jared Sullinger (foot) and Delon Wright (shoulder) are out for the Raptors.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost 13 straight games to Raptors. The Sixers' last win in the series came on Jan. 18, 2013.

• The Raptors are No. 1 in the league in offensive efficiency with 114.9 points per 100 possessions.

• Wednesday's game marks the first of three that fans were offered additional tickets for if they paid for seats to the original Nov. 30 matchup with the Sacramento Kings that was postponed.

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