This is the first game since opening night that I’ve legitimately been excited to watch. While I’m not sure what Colangelo’s plans for this team are over the next 9 months or so, but he pulled off the best trade of his Raptor tenure. While Jack may have been the best player in the deal, he turned Jack/Banks/Andersen into an asset (Peja’s expiring) that was greater than the parts it was traded for, and Bayless who should be giving us a couple years of frustration. If nothing else, we have a couple months of trade machine until the deadline.
Tonight, the Raptors host the Sixers at the ACC, and hope to extend the winning streak to 4-games for the first time since January of last season. Without even getting into it, I expect a win tonight for a couple reasons:
- Sixers suck
- Sixers suck on the road
- Sixers sucked last night in Washington (back-to-back)
- We’ve already beaten them
This the second time these teams have played in a week (it was the Sixers who got the Raptors started on this mini-winning streak), where the Raptors were able to keep the game close, then pull it out in the 4th. Bargnani came out the games gangbusters, but did a solid job of maintaining his effectiveness for the game. Arsenalist described the game the best:
“This game was a war of attrition between a poor Philly offense and a bad Raptors defense. Something had to give and it ended up being the Philly defense as a very motivated Andrea Bargnani kept demanding the ball right up until the end and delivered when he got it.”
Ed Davis – On the mend
Andre Iguodala – Achilles, Played last night
Elton Brand – May be suspended
PG – Calderon vs Holiday
Holiday is coming off a rough game against the Wizards last night where he went 4-12 from the field, but grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 5 dimes. I like this kid, but he’s too up and down, and considering he threw in a bad performance last night, and the three days rest Jose got, this could be a long night for the kid. I ugh…don’t have a whole lot for this one, other than the bench could have a big impact on this one. Lou Williams stunk last week, but had a big night last night, and Bayless is coming in pretty wet behind the ears. I expect Calderon to play 32+ minutes tonight, and with his ability to manage the offense, he should have a strong game if he keeps active on offense, and doesn’t give Holiday anything easy.
SG – DeRozan vs Turner
Triano will be experimenting with minutes to get the right mix, but if DeRozan is having another bad game, you can expect to see Barbosa (and Weems in certain match-ups) play some here. Turner hasn’t been shooting well, and his offense has suffered, but he was able to pull down 12 rebounds last week against the Raps. I don’t expect to see that again, but the Raptors will need to stay alert and not let the Philly backcourt catch their second wind tonight and lead their offense since their front line players struggle to create shots for themselves. If Lou Williams gets going like he did last night against the Bucks, it could open up some cracks in the paint for folks to go to work. After a few pretty games, and a couple days off, DeRozan looks good to come correct tonight. He needs to stay active and get to the line, otherwise I don’t see it working out well for him-again.
SF – Weems vs Igoudala
After being out a few games with an injured Achilles, Andre played 50 minutes last night and had a solid game (23pts 11rebs 8ast). He’s going to be tired and is still injured (achilles injuries take a bit more time to heal). Nocioni is playing hurt, and Weems is playing well. That’s all there is to this. Expect Thaddeus Young to get some burn after posting a couple solid performances against the Bucks and Wizards, but he’s logged quite a few minutes the last two games, so he wont be 100%. I’m liking Weems a lot lately, seems like he’s ‘gotten’ it, and is doing the right things on the court. Either way, he will be playing folks who aren’t at their best, and should have a a good go of it. I’m excited to see what Peja brings to the table tonight. I expect he should play 20+ minutes as
Carlesimo Triano figures things out; this should be a nice game for him to showcase what he has left in the tank.
PF – Evans vs Brand
Brand might be suspended for this game, after being ejected last night for a flagarant. Evans will need to do a better job defending him as he had his way last week (27pts 9reb) and was really the only reason the Sixers were in the game for as long as they were. If he’s suspended, then the offense will sputter, since no one else commands enough attention in the paint to give the perimeter players room to operate; hopefully we get to see Songaila airball a couple more shots. Either way, the Raptors have the horses to win this battle.
C – Bargnani vs Hawes
Greatest. Raptor. Player. Ever.
**NOTE** I think this is the first time I have the Raptors winning at all five positions, without the bench needing to pick up the slack. Could be a nice game for Amir to get at it without the pressure of being a focal point with so much going on with the new players and the fact that Philly sucks.
Keys to the Game
Philly is going to be tired after going to the wire agains the Wizards, and we’re a better/deeper team than they are. Yea…
Protect the perimeter
The Sixers don’t have the horses to hurt us in the key, or the glass, so our wings will need to pay attention to their shooting. If they get going, get the adrenaline pumping early, and hit their shots, it could be a long-frustrating night. I can live with that if they protect the paint and contest shots. Communication will be huge.
Give Bargnani the ball
Il Mago is hot, lets keep feeding him and let him go to work. Philly’s got nothing to stop him, or counter him. With Jack carrying CP3′s bags now, there’s no one to look away from him when he’s got it going.
The gamblers have the Raptors as 6.5 point favourites with an over/under of 205.5 points. I’m thinking bigger things tonight; Raptors by 11.
Sorry this pre-game isn’t as good as it should be, I was super rushed this morning.