Kyrie Irving

Grab the Opening-Tip which tells you about rappers honouring TJ Ford and how George Stroumboulopoulos and Danny Granger are linked.

I didn’t see the game, but the loss to Chicago cheapened the effort the Raps gave against the Celtics. All-in-all, three losses in a row doesn’t sit nicely with me, regardless of who they come against. For all the progress Bargnani has made, his efforts seem to be wasted since the Raptors don’t go to him during crunch time. He has shown the ‘look’ and ability to take those tough clutch shots (dating back to his rookie season).

With the Raptors heading into Indiana, and the specter of O’Neal rejoining the team looming, the Raptors enter into a potentially dark stretch of unknowns where team chemistry could potentially be thrown under the wheel. With absolutely no news over the last couple weeks, O’Neal has been absent from the bench while he gets ‘treatment’. Apparently it was getting the right anti-inflammatory drugs, so the master plan has come full-circle. The severity of his injury has not been disclosed, but all of a sudden, with a road games against the Pacers, the chatter of him joining the team has begun. He is saying the right things about his role on the team, but saying and doing are two different things.

The Pacers are the owners of the toughest schedule of any team in the NBA thus far. They have gone through a changing of the guard with the dispatch of O’Neal, and the emergence of Granger as a solid NBA talent who can put up points from the wing. TJ Ford has even won them a few games on his back.

Fresh off a home win against the Pistons, Indiana must be feeling good. Although Jack has replaced Ford in the starting 5, it was TJ who sparked the win against the Pistons with a solid 23pt 6reb 4ast game. In his last game against the Raptors, he had a poor showing, but this can be attributed to the excitement of coming back to the ACC for the first time. I imagine tonight will be his redemption. He might even start, which would

The Raptors? They lost 3 in a row. They suck, and there is no reason to think otherwise, it’s not Alice Fine. It seems they are tanking their way to the lottery, and I’m good with that. Hopefully some rash moves aren’t made in the meantime that will set AltRaps on a murderous rampage. seriously, I’d be afraid of him if he gets mad, big dude.

“I made the mistake of picking my dribble up after he cut off the baseline,” Bosh said. “It’s not going to be the last time we’re in a situation like that, or I’m in a situation like that. You just learn from it and keep going.”

Learn? He does this all the time. He picks up his dribble all the time in favour of jacking a jumper. I’ve learned he hasn’t learned not to do this.

The Match-up

Solomon vs Jack
The Edge: Toronto
– Solomon has been a pleasant surprise since JC went down. He has played under control, taken relatively good shots and has minimized his jump-passing. Maybe I’m just settling here because Roko can’t play a full game (30+ min) yet, but he hasn’t been frustrating me as much as he used too. Jack on the other hand has been a bit of a disappointment for me since leaving Georgia Tech. He’s not a bad player by any stretch, but he isn’t great, he’s just good. Solomon should be able to take him off the bounce, and Roko should have no problem dropping the tear drop over him in the paint.

Parker vs Dunleavy
The Edge: Indiana
– Dunleavy is coming into his own. I’m a big fan of him, the kid has talent, makes good decisions and is a match-up nightmare at the 2, Parker will have his hands full, there is no doubt. I predict a huge game for Dunleavy (25+pts 8+rebs 5+ast). Sending a double will open up Granger for even better looks. Parker will have to stay at home on Dunleavy, and not allow him to open space for Granger. This is a key match-up for this game.

Moon vs Granger
The Edge: Indiana
– Granger was G*d awful last game at the ACC. He missed a ton of shots and effectively took himself out of the game. This wont be the case again. As good as Moon has recently played, Granger has played loads better. The wing spot is going to kill the Raptors tonight, especially if Ford (or Jack if he doesn’t start) is on. Dribble penetration galore.

Bosh vs Murphy
The Edge: Toronto*
– The asterik is because Murphy grabbed 87 rebounds the last time around, his offense was limited, but he hit the boards something fierce. This will be even more crucial at home since they are fresh off a win and are feeling good about themselves. Bosh needs to make a huge commitment to boxing out and crashing the boards tonight. 10 boards isn’t going to cut. He needs to grab 12+. A good way to take Murphy out of the game is for him not to shoot it, but drive to the rack, every single freaking time. Also, don’t forget NOT to pick up your dribble when a lane closes, you’re an Olympian, you can figure something.

Bargnani vs Foster
The Edge: Toronto*
– Another asterisk, since Foster has been a Raptor killer as far back as I can remember. Active bigs who run around and crash the boards, with little regard to having plays called for them kil the Raps. I expect Voshkul and Hump to contribute in this department during relief time. The good news is that with VL on the perimeter, he will keep Foster away from the boards. Bargs has been doing a pretty decent job on the defensive boards as well, a real commitment needs to be made here.

The Line

VegasInsider.com has the spread at Indiana -4.0 with an o/u of 213.5. Safe bet here.

The Prediction

Pacers. Raptors probably should win given their advantage up front, but dribble penetration and the wings are going to kill us tonight.

Come join us at Philthy’s tonight for Raptor Fan Friday’s, and you might even catch Arse dancing on the table after he gets jacked up on jalepeno poppers.

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