Toronto Sports Media Game of the Night

Philadelphia 76ers (3-11, 1-7 away) vs Toronto Raptors (5-9, 3-3 home) @ ACC on TSN, 7:00 PM ET

Line: TOR by 5.5

Total: 207

Reason To Watch: Things are finally starting to go up for the Raptors. Toronto is riding a three game winning streak (including a win over the Celtics, when the Raps had a short bench) and look to extend that when they play the Sixers, who have dropped six of their last seven.

The Raptors winning streak started in Philly last week, when the Raps beat the Sixers 94-86 on Nov 17. Tonight will feature another new version of the Raps, with Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic expected to make their debuts.

I’m a big fan of this trade, Bayless was a dynamic scorer in his lone year at the University of Arizona. Bayless averaged a team high 19.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 4.0 apg, leading the Wildcats (“Who are we? THE WILDCATS!, and Who we gonna beat? THE WILDCATS!”) to the NCAA tourney.

Bayless was drafted 11th overall by the Trailblazers in 2008, but was stuck behind all-star Brandon Roy and veteran Andre Miller, and struggled for consistent minutes. While in Portland he was stuck behind great players, the trade this summer to New Orleans had left him in a similar situation.

At 6-3, 200 pounds Bayless has the prototypical point guards body, but has a shooting guards mentality. Hopefully, now that Jose Calderon is solidified as the teams starter, he can relax and help Bayless learn to manage games and play the point position.

With Bayless only being 22 years old, the future is very bright ahead of him and if he wants he has a real opportunity to prove himself in the league. Toronto now has five core players (Bargnani, Weems, Johnson, DeRozen, Bayless) under 25 years old, with 25 million in cap space, a 12 million dollar trade exception and two first round picks.

The 33 year old Peja Stojakovic despite making 15 million dollars this season (last year of his deal) hasn’t played 82 games since the 2003-04 season . Stojakovic could be very effective for the Raps in limited minutes (Peja averaged 7 pts in 14 minutes a game in New Orleans this year). Plus, with Toronto’s very international roster Peja should settle in fine here. If anything, Peja should keep that ridiculous three-point streak going (he’s a career 40% from deep).

With PF Ed Davis making his return in a few weeks, the sun is finally starting to shine down on the Raps and with Miami playing like crap that 2nd first round pick maybe lower then we all expected.

Raptors 97, Sixers 89

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