After two humiliating losses in a row to Charlotte and Boston, the Raptors host Phoenix in a game that is sure to be an exciting one. The Suns are an upgraded version of the Raptors: a high volume scoring team that wins games by out-scoring their opponent. Something of interest, the Suns have the fourth highest scoring differential in the league at +6.8, this is a testament to their offense as they concede 105.2 points a game.

I think we can all agree that the Raptors are a talented team. We have a bunch of finesse guys who when on, give folks fits on defense. When they are off, however, we get results like the Charlotte game. At this point, it comes down to what’s inside. Who you are. How you respond when the chips are down, and don’t fool yourselves, the chips are down.

There’s a lot of frustration in this locker room, and we have to say ‘enough is enough.’

- Antoine Wright

I’d like to see the team more passionate.

- Chris Bosh

As tough as the schedule has been so far, the Raptors are 7-10 and half a game out of the playoffs. Obviously we have issues that need to be resolved stat, but we can’t judge these guys, and say they don’t want to win. Any one of us who has ever played organized sports will tell you that everyone wants to win, some more than others. It becomes a matter of how much do you want it.

What Bosh and Wright have been saying since the Boston loss, and the tone being used, encourages me. Everything has been said. All the tape has been watched. All the drills in practice have been run. All the talk has been talked. It is time for these guys to step up and deliver. That’s it. Get pumped, get in there and do it:

The Point: You can’t say Calderon isn’t a competitor. If he is injured, he needs to rest and recover. If he’s healthy, he needs to be aggressive. Nash can’t stop our boy off the bounce, and will give him plenty of good looks from the perimeter. Calderon needs to stick that shot, and make Nash work very hard on both ends of the floor. Jack needs to never shoot the ball, and take it to the rack. Good things happen when he does that. Something out of their control is that they should not be played together much. The spectre of them guarding Nash and Richardson isn’t a pleasant one. Barbosa makes me nervous too with that lightning speed, but he’s gives that back on defense. Just make their guys work hard on the defensive end, and when they have to shoot, they will be tired.

The Wing: I like DeRozan, I really do, but he isn’t a starter just yet. His minutes will be limited, so he wont have much impact on this game. Wright needs to walk that walk now. He will see some time, and his time better be spent playing defense and grabbing rebounds. I hate Wright as a shooter and I hate when he puts the ball on the floor and attacks the paint. He needs to check Richardson, and not let him get off. Period. Belinelli needs to create for Amir, and hit his jumpers. He’s our offensive plug off the bench, and needs to act as such. Leo needs to stop verbally fellating him as we know why Golden State traded him: the guy disappears far too often. Turkoglu needs to NOT justify that contract, and just play. High pick and roll, drive, dish, create, shoot, rebound…grunt.

The Bigs: Bosh has been the lone consistent force on this team all season. Not sure what people expect of him, but when he isn’t scoring, he is grabbing rebounds, rotating on defense, and swatting guys. Can he do more? Yes. How much more? Not sure. What’s also unclear is where that line is of how much more he can do on his own. I personally think that we are at that line. His offense hasn’t come at anyones expense, not even Bargnani’s. He gets good post position, and attacks. That is what you want your big to do. He doesn’t kick it out as much as he could, sure, but I’d rather have Bosh take a 7ft hook in the block, then one of our guys shooting from behind the arc. Amare is going to score, there is nothing that can be done about that, but I’d rather see Amare shoot from 17ft then dunk in the lane. Make the guy work for it. Bargnani needs to score to be effective, we all should agree on this right now. When he isn’t scoring, the rest of his game suffers. For the most part, he has had a pretty good season so far (I’m much happier with his rebounding). He just needs to DEMAND the ball more. 12 shots a game is pretty low for a guy who can score as efficiently as he has been this year. Frye hurt us bad last time because he was left open time-after-time. There is no reason that Bargnani should leave Frye open on the perimeter, none. I can’t think of any circumstance where Bargnani would leave Frye to do anything other then rebound a missed shot, which wont be often, so yea, don’t leave him open….please.

The Line

The Suns are -2.5 on the road, with an over/under of 230, which means that this will be as shootout aka anyones game.

Simulation

Visser’s sims are 13-4 this year and this time the crystal ball is predicting a 120-113 Raptor win:

Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu each had big games the Raptors got back on track with a 120-113 win over Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns at the ACC.

Bosh had game-highs of 37 points and 13 rebounds and Turkoglu had a season-high 28, adding eight boards in the process. Jose Calderon had 16 assists and Jarrett Jack had 12 points off the bench.

Nash was surprisingly quiet in his homeland, finishing with just 10 points on 3-of-13, though he added 11 assists. Amare Stoudemire was the most productive Sun, chalking up 29 points and 10 boards.

Prediction

I’m with Jeremy, the numbers are out of whack (especially for Bargnani), but I’m expecting big nights from Bosh, Bargnani and Turkoglu. Raptors win by 7.

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