Gameday: Raptors vs Magic – Dec. 16/09

So much for unfounded optimism in calling games (my pre-game call), I will be sticking to my gut feeling from now on (my podcast call). Pitiful display by the Raptors last night. We’ve owned the Heat over the last few seasons, so you knew they were due for a win, but not like that. After what we did to the Rockets? After that team meeting that was supposed to be the key to the season? Looks like what ails the Raptors requires a shuffling of players/coach, and not Alvin Williams facilitating communication workshops while Gherardini translates.

I’m still pretty embarrassed from that loss to the Magic a month ago. The one where our genius marketing/PR team thought it a great idea to pay tribute to Vince Carter, while he was playing against us that same day. The one where he declined the offer, then proceeded to pace the Magic to the win, with a perma-grin plastered on his face the whole time. I ask one thing of the Raptors marketing team: please don’t spawn any new gimmicks for games where we play Vince Carter. We are 0-2 in these situations, and I fear the worst for all of our sanity if you fail miserably one more time.

I don’t like playing Orlando this year because I’m constantly reminded of what the Raptors SHOULD have done the last two off-seasons, namely go after Pietrus and Barnes since they represented exactly what this team was missing and continues to need at a reasonable price tag.

Tonight against the Magic is going to be bad.  The Magic by the numbers:

  • 7-3 in their last ten
  • 8-2 at home
  • 14-3 against the East
  • +5.8 scoring differential (5th best in the league)
  • 43.1 rebounds a game (7th in the league)
  • 21pts 23rebs by Howard Monday against the Pacers
  • 28pts 7rebs 3ast by VC Monday against the Pacers

You see where I’m going with this right? The Raptors need to do exactly the opposite of what they did against the Heat last night.

Bosh/Bargnani need to attack Howard early and get him into foul trouble. They need to hit him and get between him and the glass. You aren’t going to out jump the guy, so get in there and fight. Rashard Lewis will stretch the defense, so one of Bosh or Bargnani will be out of position to rebound, means the rest of the girls need to pull up their knickers and compensate. Bosh needs to grab more then 2 rebounds, regardless of who he’s covering. We had mixed results against Houston/Miami, but with Orlando grabbing so many rebounds, the Raptors have to do better then the last time around when the Magic’s offensive rebounding was brutalizing our girls.

Turkoglu needs to be kept under control. I know this is going to be an emotional night for him returning to Orlando after playing there for 5 years, but he isn’t the kind of guy who can just damage a team on his own. I do like giving him the ball and letting him create for Bosh/Bargnani though, but that’s it. His one-on-one moves need to be minimized, and his shots should only come in the natural flow of the offense…whatever that means for the Raptors.

Vince had a monster night Monday against the Pacers that helped pace Howard to a monster night of his own. We know VC can score, we know he can create, but lets hit him a few times. I bet if DeRozan/Weems elbow him a couple times in the kidneys, he stays away. Let him shoot the lights out, I just don’t want him getting to the rack and laying it up gracefully as he does. While we’re at it, how about not letting JJ Reddick have another career night. The guy can shoot, so lets not double Howard down low, letting him kick out to one of his open shooters (in this case Reddick) who will knock it down. If you didn’t know, that is what Orlando wants everyone to do. The team is built on this one thing.

Jimmy‘s sim says Orlando will win 101-88. The gamblers have the Magic as -11 and the money at -750. I had the Raptors losing this one in the podcast, it’s the second night of a back-to-back, so I’ll be damned if I change my mind; Magic win 114-89.

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