Grab the Opening-Tip: The ‘Please Don’t Trade for Hughes’ Edition. And you learn what Luol Deng and Arsenalist have in common.

With the specter of Swirky’s return looming over this one, I have been dreading this match-up for fear of the Raptors having some sort of cheesy tribute to the guy. I wasn’t a fan…he still hasn’t responded. I have the over/under on the number of close-ups the guy gets at 6, with 2-to-3 odds on him doing some sort of joint thing with Jack and Devlin at some point, probably pre-game. Anyways, the game is TSN2, so I’ll be spared the pollution…

Normally back-to-back losses on consecutive nights would have us all up in arms, but their was some good to be taken from the last two against the C**tics: uhm…the Raptors didn’t play poorly, fought hard, and came up short to a better team…that and the offense should be run through Bargnani from the top of the arc (as per Arse).

Bulls fans have been utterly disappointed by their team all season – sound familiar?? Blogabull.com (which is a damn good site btw) had this to say about them:

Has this team been any good all season? Beyond that opening night I can’t think of a time where I thought this team was going anywhere. They had some early wins against a pretty rough schedule, and that seemed enough anecdotal evidence that they were actually alright. But they stunk then, stink now.

Sounds like something I would say about the Raptors, misery likes company right?

This will be our first up-close look of Rose, who from the few games I caught, is a special talent. If we though Rondo was a handful with the dribble-penetration, Rose is going to have us pulling our hair out all night. The kid has incredible speed, ball control and seems to do whatever he wants.

The Raptors are without the services of Calderon and O’Neal again. Thankfully it is a home-game, so JC will be on the bench and passing out Gatorade at half. As for O’Neal, I have a new theory as to why he is absent from the bench: there is nothing wrong with him. Simple. BC is looking to move him in favour of some player who doesn’t fit the bill, and he doesn’t want HO messing things up by saying he isn’t getting played because Bargnani is a better fit in the starting lineup, and Voshkul/Humphries are better fits coming off the bench. How much has HO collected during this sketchy absence….$2,048,780.49. Sign me up.

The Match-ups

Solomon vs Rose
The Edge: Chicago
– Rose is sick. He gets in the lane, drives, finishes on both hands, and moves the rock around. What more can you ask for from the #1 pick. If Rokoman have any hope of containing Rose, they should let him shoot. Go under screens, give him space, force him away from the paint. Make him shoot. That’s the poison they want to be drinking. Without exception.

Parker vs Gordon
The Edge: Toronto
– How upset am I if I’m Ben Gordon? Turn down a 5/$57m contract because I think I’m worth more??? LOL! The kid can shoot though, there is no doubt about it. Fortunately, there isn’t anyone in the paint that Parker will have to help/double, so he can stay at home and make Gordon shooter over him. I’d like to see Parker post him up on the baseline a few times too. Gordon will get his points, but if Parker can counter him on offense, and stay at home on offense, he should be able to contain him.

Crooked Headband vs Sefolosha
The Edge: Even?
- I really don’t know much about the Swissman, aside from the fact that he is someone BC has coveted, and we know how that works out. Moon, aside from missing OPEN jumpers in crunch time, has been playing pretty well the last few games. Hopefully the next time he gets an open look, he wont hesitate and put up a brick.

Bosh vs Thomas/Gooden
The Edge: Toronto
– Uhm…Bosh is good. Damn good. Thomas is good too, but not Bosh good. The Bulls have absolutely no one who can stop Bosh. Even if Bosh penetrates, the best they have is Gooden or Noah to rotate over. That’s the good news. The bad news is he will popping jumpers. 26/12 sound about right to you?

Bargnani vs Gooden/Thomas
The Edge: Toronto
– All it took was a few weeks under a new coach, for the bad taste to disappear from out mouths when saying his name. He’s still VL, but slowly moving to removing the moniker. The offense needs to be initiated through Bargnani at least half the time (Bosh the other half). Gooden can’t cover him out on the perimeter, and Thomas can’t cover him off the bounce. This needs to be exploited.

The Line

VegasInsider.com has the Raptors at -4 or -5.5, depending on the book. Both are good bets IMO, I’m taking action at -3.5.

Prediction

Raptors by 5.

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