Kyrie Irving
The Unamazing Cavaliers

Game Thread on the RR Forums

Very little can be gathered about a team based on their pre-season and early season performances. If you remember, the Raptors quite convincingly beat the Cavs on opening night last season, only to finish the month 7-11. That game was impressive until you started to poke at the it a bit with a stick and realize they were on the second night of a back-t0-back where they had already played the Celtics and were integrating Shaq into an already cohesive unit. The Raptors exploited the Bargnani/Shaq matchup, and the rest was history.

The Cavs are fresh off of their opening night game over the Celtics, which raised a few eyebrows, namely mine. They were able to beat the Celtics with JJ Hickson attacking the basket and hitting enough jumpers to keep the defense honest, while Ramon Sessions and Boobie Gibson attacked off the dribble and made some plays (sound like a certain team we just played?). A wins-a-win, and they convincingly took down the Celtics.

A word on the Cavs before going any further…I F*****G hate them; always have since the John “Hot Rod” Williams and Brad Dougherty days against the Bulls (made me happy Craig Ehlo amounted to squat). The team just always bugged me. The fact that they wasted LeBrons youth makes me hate them even more. Real random tangent, but if you’re Pat Riley, and New Orleans calls you up offering you Chris Paul and David West for LeBron, do you take it? Not trying to hate on LeBron, but a Paul/Wade/ Miller/West/Bosh starting lineup is works better in my world. Seriously, I want to know if I’m on crack with this one, hit up the comments with what you think.

So I was planning to do a Q&A with a Cavs blogger, but he shafted me; yea. In case you’re interested, here are the questions I wanted answered:

  • Byron Scott seems to have maintained this squads defensive philosophy from years past (85.4 points on 39.6% shooting in the pre-season with a 6-2 record). Is defensive intensity going to be the Cavs calling card?
  • Antawn Jamison seems to be unhappy with his role coming off the bench. Does it make sense to keep him on the books now that everythings changed? Will he get traded this season?
  • Will the Cavs be buyers with their $16mil TPE from the LeBron S&T?
  • I’ve always thought that Cavs management wasted LeBron’s youth by not making certain deals (Wally Szcerbiak’s expiring deal for a scorer – Vince Carter maybe; passing on Amare Stoudemire for Antawn Jamison because of the Suns insistance on getting JJ Hickson. I hate asking what could have been…but what could have been?
  • How does Dan Gilberts reaction in comic sans affect the organizations ability to attract talent in the future?
  • As a fan of the franchise, what will it be like to go from a 60 win contender, to the bottom of the Eastern Conference in less than a month?

Injury Report

Raptors
Leandro Barbosa – Wrist (day-to-day)

Cavaliers
Mo Williams – Not sure what the problem is, but he missed the Celtics game with it
Anderson Varejao – Attending to his sick father

Match-ups

PG – Jack vs Sessions
Sessions is going to give us headaches like Felton did on Wednesday. Just look at his shot chart against the Celtics (who are a far superior perimeter defenders than the Raptors) almost all his shots are in the paint.

Ramon Sessions Shot Chart Toronto Raptors

Sure, when he got to the paint he missed an obscene number, but that’s because one of Garnett, Big Baby or Jermaine O’Neal was running at him. The Raptors have no such luxury. Jack needs to keep this kid in front of him, and out of the key. On the defensive side, he needs to make him work and run around. The Cavs are thin (status was injured at time of publishing) without Mo Williams in the lineup, Boobie is their only backup, and he’s easy to go at.
Edge: Even

SG – DeRozan vs Parker
To this day, the only Raptor jersey/t-shirt I’ve ever owned was an Anthony Parker one; wearing it right now in fact. The guy is super classy, plays within himself, and is just a good guy. He’s not easy to defend, but when you look at his shot chart against the Celtics, not one shot came in the paint.

Anthony Parker Shot Chart Toronto Raptors

With that Knowledge in hand Mr. DeRozan, what are you going to do?

a) Play off him, then challenge his shot
Play him tight and force him into the help defense

I’m going with ‘B’ Bob; it’s quite easy, the guy is 34, doesn’t have the legs he used to have, and if you make him work for his shots, it puts that much more pressure on him to perform defensively. DeRozan is due; if he can get up and down the court a few times quick, he might be able to exploit Parker’s age a bit. However, Parker is crafty, and is playing at a pretty high level at 34, so I don’t put anything past him.
Edge: Even

SF – Kleiza vs Moon
One of the things that made me happy last year was watching Moon shoot a jumper he shouldn’t have when we played the Cavs. For all the other great things he did on the court (rebounding and defense), like clockwork, he would ruin every single one of the games I watched when he jacked up a shot, and grinned like an idiot afterwards. Much like Parker, he doesn’t get into the lane much, but when he does, his athleticism helps him finish.

Jamario Moon Shot Chart Toronto Raptors

At this point, Kleiza needs to be handling guys like Moon. Nuff said.
Edge: Kleiza

PF – Evans vs Hickson
Part II of Evans vs Stoudemire. Evans grabs 16 rebs and Hickson drops 20 pts sound about right to you? I mean, there’s a reason they stupidly didn’t make the Amare trade by including this kid, right? Right? Still, to not make that trade then go out and get an aging Jamison is bloody ridiculous. Frankly, what can you expect when the organization is owned by a guy who writes fierce open letters in comic sans, but I digress. We need the Reggie of the 1st half from the Knicks game where he frustrated Stoudemire and forced him to take contested shots. It wont be easy since Hickson was able to score 21 pts on 11 possession, against a Celtics defense, with most of his points coming in the paint. Yea, it was an impressive performance. Reggie wins on the boards, JJ scores a ton of points, we call it a night.

JJ Hickson Shot Chart Toronto Raptors

Edge: Even

C – Bargnani vs Hollins
Our prayers are out to Varejao who’s attending to his sick father. I literally know nothing about Hollins, but I do know he shouldn’t be someone who gives Bargnani a great deal of trouble. Looking a few games worth of shot charts (Boston only below), seems like he tends to play off the left block (or is right right?), he plays off the top block in the shot chart.

Ryan Hollins Shot Chart Toronto Raptors

Edge: Bargnani

I can’t see the Raptors losing their first two games in a row, at home, to lower end competition. Vegas has the Raptors as 2.5 point favourites, with an over/under of 194. It’s going to be a slower paced game, and it will probably be ugly, but I’ll take an ugly win anyday. Raps by 4.

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