With the next four games (after tonight’s) against the elite of the league, the time is now for the Raptors to win their 4th game in a row for the first time this season. The Bucks are clinging onto the 8th spot for dear life now that Redd is lost for the season with a torn ACL. A big game with playoff implications as the Raptors can come with a game of the 8th spot with a win tonight.
The Bucks are 4-6 in their last 10, and currently on a two game losing streak dropping Wednesdays game against the pacers 107-99 off the heels of a monstrous game by TJ Ford (34 points). Unfortunately for the Bucks, again, both Luke Ridnour and Andrew Bogut are expected to miss tonight’s game with injuries. Tough to lose three starters, be on the road and facing a team that is starting to feel good about themselves after stringing together three wins in a row.
Redd dropped 34 on the Raptors last time out, and those shots/points need to go somewhere. Look for Jefferson, Villanueva and Sessions/Bell to be leading the charge. Frankly, Jefferson scares me. The guy has been a Raptor killer for years now, and will be looking for redemption from the last time they played the Raptors. Even though the Bucks took the game, RJ contributed 6 points; we can expect Raptor killa RJ tonight, the one who dropped 19 on Indiana, so Moon beware, no falling asleep or going for the pump fakes, otherwise you will be sharing vegemite/grits recipes with Jawai while Graham takes your place.
It just dawned on me, we essentially traded Villanueva for O’Neal (no need to get too technical, they were the principals of all the deals). It hurt me then, and it hurts me now. Although Villanueva plays defense like the girls at rail when AltRaps walks in (when they find out he has no money in his pocket), the kid can score and he hits the glass. He is a career 15pt 7reb player against the Raptors, so I know I’m not alone sighing when he nails a three, or glides through the paint with relative ease.
An important game for Barney, as we get to see what VL is made off coming off that abysmal game against the Nets; 8pts 1reb 1ast. I normally would be very skeptical, but I truly believe he has turned the corner and will respond in kind. That, and the Bucks really have no nobody that can pose VL any sort of problem. With Bogut expected to miss tonight’s game, VL wont be matched up with anyone who can hurt him on the defensive end. Sure Gadzuric, Allen and Elson are big dudes, but come on, even by committee they don’t add up to a single serving of VL.
Unsurprisingly, Bosh was named to the All-Star game as a reserve. Toss up on whether he should be a starter with how well KG and the Celtics are doing, but will have his time shortly. This will mark the fourth time he will be representing the Raps at the mid-season yawn-athon. Not to be a buzz kill, being an All-Star in this league is tainted when you put the decision of who should be starting in the fans hands. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather see Iverson playing then say…Jameer Nelson, but is Iverson still an All-Star?
Something that has been concerning me of late is his rebounding. In the last three games, he has grabbed only 19 boards for a 6.3 clip per game. That’s about 3.4 less then his season average (almost a third). He really needs to make a commitment to rebounding tonight, the points will come, but rebounding has to improve.
Err, to the right is Kayla. You don’t know how hard it was to the pic the Bucks best cheerleader (they are known as the Energee dance pak), bunch of butter-faces (everything but her face). What do you expect from a team that is owned by a US Senator, and is in the mid-west? Kayla is the best of the lot.
The Injury Report
Andrew Bogut – questionable
Luke Ridnour – questionable
Calderon vs Sessions
The Edge: Calderon - This is contingent on whether Ridnour plays, but even then, JC gets the nod. Sessions is a pretty good defender, so JC wont be getting many cheap baskets. Look for the high pick n roll, if you don’t know what that is, just watch, every time the Raptors will be offense, they will go to the pick n roll tonight…
Parker vs Bell
The Edge: Parker – Bell was a thorn in our side the last two times out, but he is far more effective coming off the bench as a spark then as a starter, IMHO. He can hit open jumpers, unfortunately for him, there isn’t anyone Parker needs to double, so he will be all up in Bell’s grill. I think this will be a match-up to keep your eye on.
Moon vs Jefferson (Updated, thanks yertu)
The Edge: Jefferson - Pump fake city! If Moon can minimize his going after a pump-fake to about once a quarter, and keep RJ out of the paint, and stay at home regardless of what happens (no need to double anyone since Redd, Ridnour and Bogut are out), then RJ will have to fight for every point he scores. On the offensive end, Moon needs to make RJ work by cutting through the paint and running around the perimeter, no plays off.
Bosh vs Villanueva
The Edge: Bosh - CV is gonna have a huge game, I can feel it, but Bosh will prevail. He just got the All-Star nod, so adrenaline is pumping, andwill pace Charlie’s offense, and out-pace his rebounding and defense.
Bargnani vs Gadzuric
The Edge: VL - Statement game for VL. I get the sense that this will be a committee job for the Bucks defending VL. Fortunately, they don’t have anyone to throw at Barney that will bother him too much. 21/8 tonight, book it.
No line was posted at the time of publishing, but I’ll give a spread of -5.5, Raptors
Raptors by 5, could get ugly for the Bucks if Bargnani gets off early.
We have Raptor Fan Friday’s tonight at Philthy’s, free beer to the first 10 people courtesy of Arsenalist.
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Tags: andrea bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Anthony Parker, Charlie Bell, Charlie Villanueva, Dan Gadzuric, Francisco Elson, Jamario Moon, jose calderon, kris humphries, Luc Mbah a Moute, Luke Ridnour, Malik Allen, Michael Redd, milwaukee bucks, Ramon Sessions, richard jefferson, tj ford