What a way to close out Movember: losses to Phoenix, Boston and Charlotte, one tougher than the other to stomach. We can chalk it up to a bad stretch against a team that got hot and two of the best teams in the league. December starts off with two back-to-back’s, (which the Raptors are 0-3 for on the second half) starting tonight with the Raptors hosting the Wizards at the ACC.

We talked about Triano’s system in Monday’s podcast, and how it wasn’t really working, and what he is going to do about it. Well we got our answer yesterday during practice when he was asked about it:

The stuff that we’re doing is basic. Do we think about tweaking things a little bit? Yes, but at the same time we were committed to this at training camp and want to give it a chance. If we need to tweak it at some point that’s what we’ll do.

I worry that we wont make any changes until it is too late for the Raptors this season. Triano doesn’t seem to be a change-on-the-fly kind of guy, which is ok because not many coaches are fluid in what they do. The good ones are on the good teams already I suppose. Bosh doesn’t seem to be worried, which is great, and he echoed what AltRaps said in our podcast yesterday that it is about that few minutes of horrible play in the 3rd that needs to be fixed:

Those five or six minutes, that is kind of what dictates the game. Even if we lose a game by 20 points, the five points the other team might go on a 10-run and not look back, and next thing you know they have confidence and they’re hitting everything. I think we just have to pay attention to detail the whole, entire game.

This is the first of two games against Washington this week, with the Raptors hosting them tonight at the ACC. The Wizards got pounded by Charlotte on Saturday and are having the same sorts of woes the Raptors do, namely energy and flatness in stretches.

The Match-up

The Point: Arenas is finally back after missing two seasons, and he is looking good early. He seems a step slow from the two games I’ve caught so far, but he seems to be playing a more mature game (in control). I, ughh, don’t know what to say about Calderon. 2pts 7ast against Nash on Sunday in some of the most uninspired ball I have seen – but in his defense, he had to switch onto Stoudemire off of every single screen which couldn’t have helped. Jack has been a little better, but only because he attacks the rim more. Otherwise his jumper sucks and he isn’t doing much to win the starting role. Even though I expect both of these guys to turn it around tonight, the Wizards back-court has quick reserves in Boykins and Foye who will be a handful when Arenas is resting during posting season highs in everything.
The Edge: Washington

The Talent: I would like to see plays run for DeRozan. Triano needs to utilize his athleticism (Jose has been tossing him perfect oops lately) more. I actually look forward to watching DeRozan and Young chase each other around the court tonight. Not expecting big things from either, but young athletic kids kids are always fun to watch. Belinelli is due a break-out game after three horrible ones in a row, and should be getting some good looks against the Wizards bench who are the type of folk that haven’t been doing much lately, but have the ability to light up the Raptors. I can see Foye going off today, he has done well against us in the past (who hasn’t though right?).
The Edge: Toronto

The  Wing: Turk, we hardly know you, but we want to see more. Tonight though, you have your hands full with Butler. Less shooting and more driving/dishing off the pick-n-roll, I think that’s your style for the rest of your time in Toronto. The jumper; take it when you’re open, but don’t look for it unless you’re inside 15ft. Just remember, Butler is good, really good, and you can’t be floating off him, or he will make you pay. Wright should never shoot the ball, ever. I hate him shooting more then I hate Jack shooting.
The Edge: Washington

The Big: Bosh’s match-up with Jamison is going to dictate who wins this game. I hate to say it, but Bosh needs to pay careful attention to this ‘old’ man, he still has lots of life in his legs. After missing the first few weeks of the season, Jamison is putting up all-star numbers again (21pts 9rebs), and will be looking to atone for his wretched game against the Bobcats on Saturday. Bad news for us, but the good news is that he has to deal with Bosh on the defensive end of the court. Jamison has made a living of rebounding the hell out of the ball against the Raptors, but I like Bosh to keep him under control off the glass. Our boy has been great at boxing out and rising above everyone to rip those bad boys down. Johnson will need to keep doing what he’s been doing so far this season. He holds it down, and will have his hands full with Blatche off the bench. Blatche will probably get Johnson into foul trouble, which will give Triano a tougher time managing minutes for his forwards.
The Edge: Toronto

The Strong: I hate Brendan Haywood…the guy is the poster child for Raptor killer. He has probably had his best games of his career against us. Unfortunately, he is also rebounding the hell out of the ball, which Bargnani will need to deal with. This needs to be a big area of concentration for Bargnani tonight since Haywood is a league leader in boards, and McGee is a long-athletic freak who also has a nose for the ball. Pops will probably see some minutes because of his athleticism, but who knows, and frankly who cares if Bargnani doesn’t make a commitment to rebound tonight. Yes yes, he will get his on offense, but if we don’t limit Washington’s offensive rebounding, we can kiss this one goodbye.
The Edge: Toronto

Injury Report

Toronto
Reggie Evans

Washington
Nobody

The Line

The Raptors are a 7 point favourite with an over/under of 212

Simulation

Visser’s sims are 13-5 this year and this time the crystal ball is predicting a 114-92 Raptor win:

Andrea Bargnani had the best game of his NBA career, scoring 36 points (12-of-17 from the field, 5-of-5 from deep) and adding 11 rebounds to lead Toronto to a 114-92 win over the Wizards.

Bargnani picked up the slack for Chris Bosh, who struggled from the field but still managed 14 points and 15 boards in the win. Hedo Turkoglu had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists and Jose Calderon had 10 points and seven assists. Jarrett Jack added 15 off the bench for the Raptors.

Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler carried the scoring load for Washington, scoring 24 and 20, respectively. Gilbert Arenas struggled from the field, finishing with 11 on 5-of-17.

Prediction

Who am I to dispute a career night by Bargs? Raptors take it 108-89.

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