Wow, Friday against the Grizz didn’t work out at all. The Raptors looked like…the Raptors. They were getting burned from the perimeter, interior defense was suspect, team rebounding was non-existent, they weren’t sharing the ball, and weren’t hitting their shots. Perfect storm. Today, the Magic roll into town, and the unspoken rivalry is born again.

The advantage the Raptors had on opening night, quickness and conditioning, was a non-factor against the Grizzlies who have a young, athletic team. Bargnani was able to take Shaq/Big Z off the hop, but Gasol and Z-Bo were able to counter, and in some instances, nullify the Raptors front court. As big a night as Bosh had (37pts 12rebs), Randolph countered with a 30pt 7reb monster of his own.

I think they just had a little bit better conditioning than the Cavaliers.They were coming up a lot harder, their fast-break. I don’t think Cleveland did a very good job at fastbreaking against us and that put a lot of pressure on us.

That doesn’t sit right with me. We beat an Eastern Elite, and fell asleep behind the wheel playing a young – up ‘n coming one? One that draftee Thabeet 2nd overall? We didn’t know that a young team with some of the best young wings (Gay, Mayo, Carroll) wasn’t going to push and attack?

Orlando has come out the gates like a team that belonged in the Finals; sans Rashard Lewis. They have convincingly won their first two against Philly and Jersey by an average of 12pts. Howard has been a monster, averaging 20.5pts 18.5rebs. Yea, he has grabbed 37 rebounds in the first two games of the year. That’s ridiculous.

I wandered over to Orlando Magic Daily to see what our TrueHoop brethren had to say about their recent game against the Nets:

It’s not a win the Magic will look back on — surely, it’s one of those wins where you forget about it on the plane ride home — but it’s the type of win an elite team is supposed to win. It was ugly, but it gives you confidence knowing the Magic can take care of a team when they didn’t shoot well and were missing two key starters.

The tone in the things being said is jarring for me. Against the Cavs, the Raptors were able to withstand a run by an elite team while they wore down. Against the Grizz, they couldn’t. Athleticism and conditioning seem to be an issue for our guys. The Magic on the other hand were able to win ugly while missing two starters. The Magic are an athletic team. With Carter expected to come off the bench, the starting 5 will be tough to deal with.

Match-ups

Calderon vs Nelson
All I can think about is Swirsky saying that Calderon will own Nelson in those playoffs, and that backfiring. Nelson straight up owns Calderon. He is a tough cover: strong, quick, a bulldog. He had an off-game against Harris, so I am sure he will rebound.
The Edge: Magic

DeRozan vs Reddick
With SVG saying he wont be surprised if JJ starts, chances are good VC is coming off the bench if at all. Reddick is Mr. Fundamental. Bit of a disappointment after a solid college career, but he is carving out a niche for himself. I can see it now: DeRozan will be sent to Howard in the low post; the ball gets kicked out to Reddick who nails an open trey or swing it around the perimeter for somebody to nail an open shot. Kid Dynamite has been playing great so far. He should give Reddick fits chasing him around the court, but I suspect being the one sent to double Howard wont bode well for the kid.
The Edge: Magic

Turkoglu vs Pietrus
It upsets me that the Magic got Pietrus so cheap (5yr/$25mill-ish). I was pleading for the Raptors to sign him, as he brought all the things we needed (at the time) need: defense, take his man off the bounce, slashes to the rim, rebounds and hit some shots, but alas, we got HO…Turkoglu has been playing pretty decently. Dropping 13 a game, grabbing 4.5, but not the playmaker we had hoped (2ast). I was ripped for saying his matchup with Gay would be even (a draw would be a generous assessment of what went down Friday), but I’m saying it will be a draw this time around. Pietrus will be the beneficiary of some open space created by Howard in the post, but will have a hard time covering Turk in the paint on offense. This will be an even match, book it.
The Edge: Even

Bosh vs Anderson
Bosh has been a beast the first couple games. You have to figure that having him score 37 is bad for the team. 20-25 is the perfect range, where he is producing, but not at the expense of a fluid offense. Anderson, whom our very own PHD Steve said was NOT to be slept on this season, has been proving just that. He was a throw in as part of the Carter trade, but the kid can play, and is starting ahead of Brandon Bass, who was looked at as the starting PF when they snatched him from the Mavs in the summer. Just don’t see Bosh slowing down against this team, not even after a night of partying with Jay-Z.
The Edge: Raptors

Bargnani vs Howard
LOL, doesn’t look good for Bargnani at all. Forget the playing defense on Howard, but keeping him off the boards. Howard should have zero problems cleaning up the boards given VL’s lack of rebounding/boxing out grit. Seeing the trouble Andrea had with Gasol, I cringe to think about the possible 40/20 Howard can drop on our boy.
The Edge: Magic

Injury Report

Raptors
Reggie Evans
Sonny Weems

Magic
Rashard Lewis
Vince Carter*
Adonal Foyle

Simulation

Our boy Jeremy Visser from That’s What I’m Saying, Guy… checked in with his simulation. You can hit him up on twitter @jeremy_visser. We’re keeping track of the simulations here.

The Raptors couldn’t handle an Orlando team that was missing Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, falling 96-91 Sunday at the ACC. Chris Bosh had 29 points and a career-high 23 boards, but had trouble handling Dwight Howard, who had 28 and 13 of his own.

Aside from Bosh, the only Raptor in double digits was Hedo Turkoglu, who had 17 in his first game against his former team. Like Bosh, Andrea Bargnani had his hands full with Howard and was limited to just 17 minutes, picking up five fouls and scoring just five points in the process. Jose Calderon had eight points and six assists.

Howard was one of five Orlando players in double digits — Matt Barnes, starting in place of Carter, had 16, while Jameer Nelson had 15 and Michael Pietrus and Brandon Bass added 10 apiece.

Surprisingly, Toronto out-rebounded Orlando and had almost three times as many trips to the free throw line, but it wasn’t enough to come out with a win.

Keys to Winning

  • Keep Howard off the boards, both of them
  • Don’t double Howard in the low post, let him score 40, but keep everyone else in check
  • Bargnani should never rotate on defense, stay with Howard at all times
  • Let Jason Williams shoot as many transition-pull-up threes as he wants, seriously

Prediction

This has the makings of a solid game: The Raptors are reeling from a tough loss on the road to a team they shouldn’t have lost too; The Magic are 2-0 to start the season, and looking to secure home-court throughout the playoffs aka they will be coming hard and fast. As much as I would like to think that the Raptors will avenge their Friday loss, they wont (unless Bargnani duplicates his effort form the home opener, which you will excuse me if I don’t hold my breath for). Magic by 6.

Catch us for live chat at 1pm here.

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