The Sixers haven’t won in Toronto since 2012, and are looking to break streak against NBA-best Raptors
Brett Brown has never won in Toronto as a head coach. Jimmy Butler hasn't won there since he was as Chicago Bull.
Brett Brown has tried to forget the result of the 76ers last game in Toronto.
“My last memory of Toronto, I have selective amnesia," he said after the team practiced Tuesday in Camden.
Earlier this season on Oct. 30, Sixers lost 129-112 to the Raptors. As a head coach, Brown hasn’t won in Toronto; it’s impossible to not take note of Toronto’s dominance over the Sixers.
The last time the Sixers won in Canada was Nov. 10, 2012. Doug Collins was the Sixers coach, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young combined for 30 points, and Amir Johnson was playing for the Raptors.
Even with the addition of Jimmy Butler to the roster, the Sixers will have their hands full with the 2018 version of the Raptors, who enter Wednesday’s game with a league-best 20-5 record.
“What I remember most is that they’re really good,” said Brown. “We look forward to going up there and using it as an early sort of barometer of where we are.”
The Sixers (17-8), who have won eight of the last nine games and four straight, are hoping that their recent success will propel them on the road this week. After Toronto on Wednesday, they travel to play Detroit on Friday.
Brown noted that having Butler on the team changes things when matching up against the Raptors. In the Sixers' most recent game in Toronto, Kawhi Leonard punished the Sixers, spending most of his time guarding Ben Simmons and forcing turnovers and tough shots. Now, with Butler, Leonard will not be able to focus solely on Simmons, which should give the Sixers more room to work offensively.
“You’ve got sort of a sparing partner for Kawhi, and [an] all-star now on our team, and there’s a newness that the history of what we might or might not have done in Toronto is irrelevant to him; he doesn’t care,” Brown said of Butler. “It’s a new day, we have a new team, and we’re feeling good about the direction that we are heading.”
Butler will be a focal point and give the Sixers more options and better defense. But if they win on Wednesday, Butler said he doesn’t want the narrative to be that it’s because of him. Instead, Butler said a winning result will only come if the whole team plays well.
Butler is confident and believes the Sixers are playing well enough to win, but he’s carrying a losing streak into the game, too. He hasn’t won in Toronto since March 14, 2016, when he was with the Bulls. Joel Embiid and JJ Redick also noted Tuesday about how tough it’s been to play in Toronto. Redick’s last victory on the road against the Raptors was on Jan. 25, 2014.
Embiid said that even though he has never won in Toronto, it’s a place that he loves playing because the fans remind him of the Philadelphia crowd.
“I love playing in Toronto, they’ve got great fans,” Embiid said. “They’re kind of like Philly. They’re not as nasty as Philly fans are, but they got great fans. They support the team, the games are always sold out, packed, and it’s a great atmosphere.”
Wilson Chandler, who did not play Sunday at home against Memphis after suffering a minor thigh injury against the Wizards on Friday, practiced on Tuesday and is expected to play in Toronto.
Jonah Bolden is no longer on the Sixers injury list and also will be available to play in Toronto. Bolden suffered a small cortical crack in the proximal fibula of his right leg on Nov. 17 in a game with the Delaware Blue Coats and has been sidelined since.