|76ers shoot for win at their Toronto house of horrors|
TORONTO -- The Philadelphia 76ers will face a difficult task as they seek their first win of the season Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors.
The 76ers, who lost the series to the Raptors 3-1 last season, have dropped 15 of their past 16 games against Toronto, including nine in a row at Air Canada Centre.
The Sixers lost their home opener 102-92 on Friday night to the undermanned Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center.
"We let one go," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We were up (nine), I think, in the third period and you felt like with a few more baskets that they might have gone away. I give the Celtics credit, but I really feel like we let one slip."
Ben Simmons had 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists on Friday, the first rookie in 76ers franchise history to start his career with back-to-back double-doubles and the 11th rookie in NBA history to do so.
"It's a learning experience for us with a lot of young guys, but we have to capitalize, especially in the third quarter after we come back out," Simmons said.
The 76ers (0-2) also lost their season opener on Wednesday 120-115 to the Washington Wizards at the Capital One Arena.
Center Joel Embiid said before the game Friday that he does not expect to play Saturday against Toronto. He has had foot and knee injuries early in his career and his playing time has been restricted in games. He has not yet been cleared to consecutive nights.
"I just want to feel like an NBA player," Embiid said. "I feel like I'm not an NBA player because I don't play back-to-backs."
He did not participate in the second half of back-to-back games last season to reduce the chance of injury.
"This (season), there's not a lot of back-to-backs," Embiid said. "I feel like I'll miss some, but I'm not sure when. But I'll definitely play some back-to-backs this year."
Embiid scored 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field and grabbed 14 rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Raptors (1-0) are trying to develop a more free-flowing, ball-moving offense with more emphasis on taking 3-pointers.
They also are going with a younger second unit led by 30-year-old veteran C.J. Miles, who went 6 of 9 on 3-pointers in scoring 22 points in the 117-100 win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in the season opener.
Miles, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright provided a big spark coming off the bench. They produced a 15-0 run early in the second quarter that gave Toronto a 17-point lead.
Wright finished with 13 points, second to Miles on the second unit, as the Raptors got 48 points from the bench on 51.6 (16-of-31) shooting.
The second unit figures to be prominent again Saturday.
"I was really impressed with the young group, they came in and didn't look like they were a deer in the headlights," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "C.J. (Miles) was plus-25, OG (Anunoby) was plus-26, so they came in and did their job. They expanded the lead and didn't lose it and really impressed."
Miles was acquired as a free agent for his ability to shoot 3-pointers.
Wright is in his third season but missed the first 41 games last season after having right shoulder surgery.
"He is very unorthodox, but he uses his length very well," Casey said. "He has really worked on his 3-point shot, you are not shocked when he knocks it down.
"He fits with Kyle (Lowry) kind of like Cory (Joseph) did last year. He does a good job of playing tag team with Kyle, which is great. I think he and Freddy (VanVleet) also are a good mix together, so it gives them a good identity with the second unit.
"That's what we want to do to develop those guys and make sure they establish that and maintain it. There are going to be some nights where they may not be as good, but we have to live with it and have them grow. I can see them growing through exhibition and training camp."
Sixers forward-center Amir Johnson played six seasons in Toronto (2009-15), averaging 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 451 games. He is the Raptors' career leader in field goal shooting percentage (.572), fourth in total rebounds (2,836) and fifth in games played (451).
Philadelphia guard Jerryd Bayless averaged 10.5 points in 91 games (2010-12) with Toronto.