Things are going according to my plan. We’re only one game into the season, but the Raptors are gunning. I must admit, I was skeptical about the team during training camp since folks were injured and the game-play was lethargic, but the Raps found their on-switch, and took it right at LeBron et al. The Raptors beat the Cavs for the first time in two years in convincing fashion. Sure the Cavs don’t match up well against us with all them slow 7 footers and the rest of the lot (tell me you didn’t crack a smile or laugh maniacally when Moon took those jumpers, lol).
The difference between the elite teams and the rest is that they have the tools/desire to make a run to draw things even. With the Raptors up 18 heading into half-time, Mike Brown must have delivered a Braveheart level speech that inspired LeBron & Co. to go on a run to start the 3rd, and bring the game within 7. They even tied the game at 69 when it happened, the Raptors regrouped and went on a run to finish the game. That’s what good teams do, they don’t fold. It isn’t something we are used to seeing, but BC, for one game at least, looks like he has built us a team to be proud of.
The Grizzlies on the other hand had a pretty rough start to the season at the hands of the Pistons. What did our TrueHoop brothers at 3 Shades of Blue (a great blog btw) have to say:
Wow. That was just horrible. HORRIBLE … Laziness, lack of polish, lack of coaching preparation? … A rough start. VERY rough. Couldn’t have been any rougher, really.
Losing to the Pistons was once something that didn’t upset folks, but not so much anymore. Dumars has done an equally good job of blowing up this team as he did building a championship one. Whatever, I’m just happy that the Raptors have the ability to solidify a great opening season win, with a follow-up one to a lesser team. For all the quality young talent this Memphis team has, they aren’t very good, Iverson seems incognito too for some reason.
Calderon vs Conley
I don’t like Jose running the off-guard with Jack at the point, he is almost invisible, but he had a decent game overall. His shot wasn’t falling, and he missed one less free throw then all of last season, but he got the rest of the Raps involved and dropped 11 dimes. He needs to attack Conley, who is coming off one of his worst games as a Grizzly, and not let up. Fortunately, Conley wont provide much in terms of defense, so Jose should be able to take advantage of the sophomore.
The Edge: Calderon
DeRozan vs Mayo
Easily the most exciting match-up of the game. It will be fun to watch these two chasing each other around. Both are athletic and can get up and down the court quickly. DeRozan, by my count, had a great debut. He hit key shots, slashed to the rim, grabbed a couple boards, and made things tough for Parker. Mayo is a machine that didn’t have a good shooting night. You can bet he will come out gunning, and take it right at at our rook.
The Edge: Mayo
Turkoglu vs Gay
Our big FA acquisition did well in the opener considering he missed most of the pre-season. He wasn’t shooting great (3-7), but dropped 12pts 7rebs 3ast 3blks…I’ll take it. Gay was one of those guys that pained me to see: what could have been right (not so much anymore though if Bargs keeps this up)? He is the long, athletic, durable and can score, but I have a hankering that Hedo will take a big step forward tonight playing that high pick-n-roll with Bosh/Bargnani.
The Edge: Even
Bosh vs Randolph
Bosh looks to have found his niche in the Cavs win. He’s an elite player, but not one who carries the team offensively. He is a complimentary offensive player, but his defense and rebounding was off the charts as far as I’m concerned. Against Z-Bo, I don’t expect much otherwise. Zach will get his 20-10, but he’s a black hole. His impact on the game is strictly statistical, and I don’t expect it to be much different tonight.
The Edge: Bosh
Bargnani vs Gasol
How YOU doin? Shaq, tell me how VL’s ass tastes! Bargs was a one man wrecking crew. He owned Shaq/Varejao/Ilgauskas all night (when he wasn’t sitting on the bench due to foul trouble). He took his man off the bounce, hit 3s in transition, created his own shot, and grabbed a couple boards. Efficient and deadly, Gasol is a stud, but a slow one. 21pts 15rebs in 30min against the Pistons. Those are scary numbers, but he will have his hands full trying to play Bargs from the 3pt line in. Expect a lot of what we saw with the Cavs: Bargnani having his way. It will take getting used to, but Bargs will own a lot of centers this year, makes me giddy.
The Edge: Bargnani
Memphis has Thabeet on their, by default their bench sucks. I still laugh when I think about them taking Thabeet with dudes like Harden, Rubio and everyone else not named Blake was available, lol. The Raptors bench on the other hand was solid. Belinelli scored at will, Wright had swagger and Jack made Calderon a bit nervous. How bad was the Memphis bench against the Pistons: they contributed 11pts 14rebs…8 guys contributed less then what Gasol did as an individual.
The Edge: Raptors
The line is set at Raps -4 (-105) with an over/under of 195.
Keys to Winning
- Attack Gasol from the opening tip, need to make Thabeet and Haddadi play big minutes tonight
- Box out Randolph and Gasol – have to limit those boards
- Let Randolph score as many as he wants, he does a good job of disrupting the offensive flow of his own team
The Grizz have nice-young talent up and down this roster, but they don’t have much of a team. You have to figure when they took Thabeet at #2 that they aren’t really serious about winning to begin with. The Raptors will get off to an 2-0 start, this should be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Tags: andrea bargnani, Antoine Wright, Braveheart, Chris Bosh, Demar DeRozan, Hamed Haddadi, Hasheem Thabeet, Hedo Turkoglu, jose calderon, lebron james, Marc Gasol, marco belinelli, Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, Reggie Evans, rudy gay, Zach Randolph