This would not be the best time for the Sixers to be without Joel Embiid.
His status moving forward is uncertain as he battles back tightness. Embiid sat out Tuesday's loss to the Kings and could miss their next two games against the Raptors, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Embiid is continuing to receive treatment, and as of Wednesday morning, no official decision had been announced on his availability.
It would not come as a surprise if Embiid missed additional time. He played 49 minutes in Friday's triple-overtime loss to the Thunder — that's basically two games worth of playing time. Embiid clocked those major minutes one game after logging 39 against the Timberwolves in OT and two games after sitting out against the Pelicans because of the back issue.
The team is proceeding with caution, as expected. The goal is the playoffs, and while the Sixers need to win every game they can at this point in the season, they also will need Embiid healthy enough to be on the court down the stretch.
If Embiid is not a go against the Raptors, the Sixers' already-challenging opponent becomes that much more difficult. The 20-8 Raptors have won nine of their last 10 games. The Sixers, on the other hand, have dropped seven of their last eight.
Others stepping up
There is no way to duplicate the impact Embiid makes, and it's just as hard to fill the void of his 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The Sixers knew going into this season Embiid would not be available every game, and so his teammates have to step up. This is an opportunity for players like Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Robert Covington to be more aggressive and consistent in the starting unit. (JJ Redick's status is TBD after leaving Tuesday's game because of his hamstring.) See more on the need for the offense here.
An Embiid-less game also requires the bench to amp up its energy and try to contain any lead the starters build.
Limiting backcourt duo
When you think Raptors, you think Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And the Sixers certainly will be thinking of them, too. They have learned firsthand how the pair of guards can easily run up the score. DeRozan dropped 30 points, including 14 from the line, in their first meeting. Philadelphia native Lowry averaged over 20 points at the Wells Fargo Center last season. The pair is combining for nearly 40 points per game this season.
Protecting the paint
The Raptors have averaged 54.0 points in the paint in their last three wins, and rank fourth in the NBA on the season (48.4). The Sixers, meanwhile, gave up 48 points to the Kings in that area Tuesday. They will have to be mindful of Jonas Valanciunas, who left their last meeting early (ankle). The center is coming off a 13-point, 16-rebound double-double in the Raptors' last game.
Winning at home
The Sixers have to take advantage of every game they play at the Wells Fargo Center. They have the energy of a hungry home crowd behind them, an arena full of fans eager to play the sixth-man role in a win. The need for a home win is heightened by the fact the Sixers will play the following game in Toronto, a challenging road environment where the Raptors are an impressive 11-1 this season.