Grab the Tip-Off: Young Buck Edition.

Home sweet home. After splitting a pair of games on the road, the Raptors host the Grizzlies at the ACC. I have a vested interest in this game as my countrymen Hamed Haddadi, the first Iranian born player, is sitting on Memphis’ bench. The kid had a serious Olympics, averaging something like 15pts and 12rebs for the tournament. There was some controversy over NBA teams singing nationals, but that has seemingly gone away. The kid is 7’2, 256lbs, and Persian, what more could you want?

I know what I want…Bargnani to continue his solid play. Over the last 7 games, with a defined role and not having to look over his shoulders, VL has produced:

Opp Result/Score Min FG eFG 3P FT ORB TRB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Average 4-4 36 55% 66% 60% 87% 1.0 4.6 1.3 0.6 1.1 2.0 3.0 17.9

#1 overall worthy? With a consistent showing, BC may not look so much the fool. If three weeks ago, that Howard rumour was on the table, that idiot doubt in all of us wouldn’t have kicked in. 7 games, and that idiot doubt is rampant. Maybe justifiably, but if his minutes drop when HO comes back, or he gets moved back to 3, what a waste. Hopefully the powers that be have a bit more sense, bite the bullet and do the right thing. Bargnani is saying the right things when asked about his role once HO returns:

“J.O. is a great player, for sure he’s going to start,” he said. “The second thing is it’s not my job to worry about these things.”

The Grizz fell to New Jersey 100-89 on the backs of Mayo and Gay who put up 26pts and 23pts respectively. They are 1-4 in the last 5 games, and 2-14 on the road. They have some nice young talent on that squad, but that is the problem, they are young. Capable of winning (4 game stretch in December), but dropping two games to the Timberwolves. Wont be easy without Calderon, who is expected to be a game-time decision, so it falls to Bosh/Bargnani to run things from the get-go.

Is it bad that I am glad HO wont be playing? I have two reasons:

  1. The Raptors are winning without him – I’m sick of all the losing.
  2. Bargnani is hitting his stride.

Hopefully when he comes back, he will be gracious enough to come off the bench in hopes of not messing up Bargnani’s rotation, and for the best result for the team, I wont hold my breath though:

Match-Ups

Solomon vs Mayo
The Edge: Memphis
– Contender for the ROY, Mayo is sick. McHale made another bone headed move when he moved Mayo for Love (Love is a nice player, but Mayo is sick). Solomon has really been well since Jose went down, averaging 9.7pts and 6.7ast. The best part is that he is limiting his turnovers and ot playing so reckless. He has the speed to keep up with Mayo, but Mayo is sick.

Parker vs Lowry
The Edge: Toronto
– Parker has some size on the kid, and should be able to close out and defend the jumpers. Off the hop, Lowry might have an advantage in speed, but the Raptors defensive rotations have improved recently. On the offensive end, Parker will be able to shoot over Lowry or post him up for one of a turn around jumper.

Moon vs Ross
The Edge: Toronto
– Moon is expected to be back, and congratulations to him for the newborn. Hopefully he hasn’t been snacking on the baby-food and has his head in this game. Ross…I don’t know anything about the guy, so by default Moon gets the nod.

Bosh vs Gay
The Edge: Toronto
– Gay is a nice player, and would have been a nice running mate to Bosh, but that ship has sailed and I’m drunk on the Bargnani-aid (I admit it…I’m ashamed, don’t judge me). Bosh is playing like an all-star/Olympian, and at this point, I am glad to say that the questions surrounding whether he has checked-out are done and over with…just misunderstood my man was.

Bargnani vs Gasol
The Edge: Toronto
– What a beast Gasol is, who was the key piece in the Pau Gasol trade last year. His playing time has been gradually increasing, and so has his production. He will be a handful for VL on the glass and in the blocks…but fortunately, VL will be a bigger handful for him out on the perimeter. VL will need to steal a couple boards from Gasol, force him to miss a couple shots and keep him out on the perimeter where his effectiveness diminishes drastically.

The Prediction

Can you guess? Raptors by 9.

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