Title: Shorthanded and out of gas, Raptors suffer worst loss of season at hands of 76ers
Date: December 22, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about their first real blowout loss of the season, one that came shorthanded and fatigued and taught us very little in the process.
Expectations for a game can be a weird thing.
Late Friday night following the Raptors’ victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the expectation for Saturday’s game in Philadelphia were almost universally a loss. It wasn’t so much a schedule loss, although it was that to some degree on the second night of a back-to-back and the third game in four nights. Instead, the Raptors appeared set to schedule the loss for themselves — Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t be playing, Jonas Valanciunas is still on the shelf, and Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Danny Green all seemed doubtful to suit up with shorter-term injuries.
Even when an update came down Saturday, expectations were modest at best. Ibaka would sit, Lowry and Green would somewhat surprisingly play, and the betting line moved the Raptors from 8.5-point underdogs to 7-point underdogs. For context, the only time the Raptors have been a larger underdog this year was when they were a 7.5-point underdog in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. Down three key players — including both centres for a matchup against Joel Embiid — in a fatigued situation with the starting backcourt at perhaps something less than 100 per cent, simply competing and getting to a three-day holiday break relatively healthy would have been considered a positive.