Toronto Raptors Orlando Magic January 21, 2011

The team that beat the Magic in Orlando earlier in the season is a far better one than the one rolling into town now; never mind that the Magic are also a much better team now. Don’t expect the same result, I can’t stress this enough.


Reggie Evans – Out
Leandro Barbosa – Out
Sonny Weems  – Out
Linas Kleiza – Day to day

Malik Allen – Day to day
Jameer Nelson – Day tod ay


Point Guard
For anyone who didn’t get concerned about the Magic after the two big trades: you haven’t been paying attention. While the Arenas trade may have been unnecessary, and potentially has hurt the front court depth, you can’t deny that having multiple playmakers come playoff time is crucial. It frees up Nelson from the burden of playmaking, to scoring and swinging the ball. After a few games to adjust, Jameer is shooting 48% from behind the arc in January while averaging 6.4ast. 60% of his shots come outside of 18feet. What’s interesting is how he’s getting those assists; on average, 2.5 ofthem result in a three, and 2.2 of them at the rim. So two-thirds of his passes result in some sort of open-look off that high screen.

The lame use of stats is meant to illustrate what kind of battle Jose should expect tonight: Jameer likes the perimeter. Leaving him to double will result in an open look that he’s all too happy to take, or even worse, when Jose runs to close him out, he blows by him and puts pressure on our defense in the paint where the options of what to do are limitless since everyone is worried about Howard.

You can officially put me in the “don’t trade Jose unless you get something really valuable back” camp. One of the best parts of this season has been-being able to sit through a game and not be upset about the effort; Jose is a big reason for that. In January, the kid is averaging 12pts 11ast; coming 1 rebound shy of a triple-double against the Wizards. With so much history since the last year we were in the playoffs, there’s going to be some nice back-and-forth with these two. I haven’t even mentioned Arenas, who frankly, I’ve expected a bit more from since the trade. The good news for the Raptors is that he pretty much spends all his time on the arc hoping to jack it up. Not sure if he’s fully recovered from that injury a few years ago, but he doesn’t seem to like to put the ball on the floor and take his man off the dribble. I’ve got my eye on this Gaines kid, who’s quickly playing Bayless out of some minutes.
Edge: Even

Shooting Guard
This is where things start to go really wrong for the Raptors.  It took a few weeks to get used to a totally different system than what he enjoyed in Phoenix, but Jason Richardson hasn’t lost a step. He must be relishing playing for a contender after getting to the conference finals last year. Half his shots (in a Magic uniform) come from behind the arc, and 94% of those are assisted. The guy is a catch and shoot player, and hits them rather efficiently, 44% since being traded from the Suns. Where DeMar can hurt him is off the dribble and in transition where Richardson lateral movements limit his defensive effectiveness.

I like the Raptors offense much better with DeMar as the focal point. He’s attacking the basket off the dribble, and picking his spots to take an 18 foot jumper. The shot still doesn’t inspire 100% confidence in me, but all that work in the gym seems to be paying off. If I’m DeMar, I’d be on the phone with Dave Hopla for some private shooting instruction, doesn’t even matter what it costs; he’ll more than make up for it on his next contract if he develops a consistent mid-range game.

As much as I appreciate DeRozan’s recent emergence, he needs to work harder at other aspects the game. He has the physical/athletic prowess to be a tremendous defensive player for the Raptors on the wing. One area of immediate improvement could be his ball distribution when he drives through the paint and gets doubled; passing to an open shooter could rack up easy assists for him.
Edge: Magic

Small Forward
The Turkoglu we played in the win against the Suns won’t be the same one we play tonight in Orlando. This one thrives in half-court offenses that afford him room and space to create for others off that high pick-n-roll. He’s not the same Hedo that went to the NBA finals either, but a triple-double and a 17 assist game since coming back can’t be overlooked.

I worry about the pick-n-roll defense, since Bargnani will struggle to both hedge on Hedo, as well as defend a rolling Howard. There will be lots of defensive slack for Julian Wright to pick up, and he needs to be up for the task. I like that Wright is long and can fight through screens a bit more aggressively then we’ve become accustomed too.

Wright (and Kleiza if he’s healthy) will also have to battle Hedo on the boards where he does a great job of complimenting Howard. Full Disclosure: even though I felt like a dirty traitor, I picked up Hedo on waivers, and he’s done very well for me. The guy contributes all over the map, with the only knock being he doesn’t play defense at a high-level.

Oh yea, watch the three; he’s been shooting it at over 44% since getting traded.
Edge: Magic

Power Forward
I really thought Johnson and Davis would bring the goods against the Spurs, and to a degree they did, but they clearly got their butts handed to them on a platter by Dajuan Blair, who’s an absolute beast. Notwithstanding Blair, the Raps front court did a pretty good job (minus Bargnani’s contribution).

Tell me you don’t like the pairing of Amir and Ed Up front. Defense and rebounding aren’t an issue, with the offense looking a bit more fluid with DeRozan taking the lions share of the responsibility. I appreciate them putting it all on the floor, and growing into their roles as guys who contribute across the board as important role players (Davis might prove to be more given the chance, Amir is what he is).

I’m willing to bet that Amir/Ed will be checking Howard during key stretches of the game, and probably doing a better job of it than Bargs. I also like Howard checking either of them on defense, since they live in the paint, and can substitute in and out quickly to give Dwight fresh legs to constantly deal with. Not saying they will score on him at will, but they are active and could force Dwight into some early foul trouble.
Edge: Toronto

It gave me the warm-fuzzies when Triano decided to flex some coaching muscle, and benching Bargnani when it was clear he was hurting the team. Lets hope Bargnani got the message loud and clear. That said, Bargnani isn’t the kind of the player who can fall back on other aspects of his game when the shots aren’t falling. 90% of his effectiveness comes from his scoring, and if he’s not shooting well, then he’s as useless as Arsenalist cruising at Hemingways on a Friday night.

The shot needs to be there tonight from the tip, since Bass/Anderson have no chance checking him on the perimeter. He can shoot over both, and back both down into the paint for short turn-around-half-hooks. Even off the dribble, no one on the Magic can check the guy. He’s got so much offensive ability, it’s really comical he doesn’t average 25 a game consistently. A lot of that comes from his sick tendencies of stepping inside the arc and launching low percentage jumpers; his efficiency crashes when this happens.
Edge: Magic

Keys to the Game

Defend the Pick-n-Roll Aggressively
It’s going to come hard, and with a lot of furry.  The guy being screened will have to fight through them, and the guy defending the picker will have to hedge and buy some time for the defense to recover and set itself.

Perimeter Defense
Dwight Howard commands so much attention, that Magic shooters get a lot of looks, good ones, from the perimeter. Pick-n-roll defense is one aspect of this, another is how many doubles we through at Howard in the paint. The Magic are surprisingly 25th in the league in assists, so their offense is a lot of catch-and-shoots, which doesn’t give a lot of time for defensive rotations to play catch-up.

Don’t Give Hedo any Satisfaction
Easier said than done with the team he’s playing on, but I don’t want to see him smiling and laughing it up because of he’s on route to a triple-double.

The Line

The gamblers have the Magic as 11.5 point favourites, with an over/under of 207. The Magic play a slow pace, but are deliberate and damn efficient at it. The Raptors can’t spot them 10 points to start the game, since they will grind the game to slower pace, and pick us apart. Not much hope here tonight; just need to play our game and keep developing good habits. Since we got the Heat tomorrow night, you might see Triano shut things down if the Magic run away with this early to keep guys as fresh as possible for Bosh & co.

  • Tom Liston

    Love the pic – Julian Wright has mad skillz (is that how the kids say it?)

  • Tim W.

    I highly doubt Davis is going to get much, if any time defending Howard. Howard’s WAY too strong and Davis struggles against bigger players. I don’t see why you don’t think Bargnani won’t defend Howard much. Howard is exactly the type of player that Bargnani defends best, and Amir, like Davis, is a little undersized to defend him for very long.

    • Sam Holako

      Dude, seriously? You’re nitpicking. I was just pointing out that there will be some match-ups, and change-ups with different people switching in and out of defending Howard. We could see Johnson/Davis checking Howard while Bargnani sits. Much like the Spurs game, if Bargnani isn’t playing well, Triano could pull him during key stretches.

      As for Bargnani not defending Howard much, I didn’t say that either. Also, if you want to nitpick properly, don’t forget that Bargnani defended Howard so well the first time they played that Dwight scored 25. So ‘best’ is really relative.

      • yertu damkule


        i’d normally be thinking that dorsey would/should see significant time defending howard, but given how little court time he saw against the spurs, i have no idea…he could play 3 minutes, he could play 30. much, IMO, will depend on how well bargs does to start the game. if i’m SVG, and i see bargs on dwight, i’m going at him in the post & forcing bargs to either foul early (and get the raps only *consistent* offensive weapon out of the game), or force bargs to back off (and allow dunks/put-back dunks, and dunks), or force triano to switch amir onto him (for more of the same, but with more fouling), or force triano to play dorsey on him & go hack-a-dwight 3 minutes in. or…ALEXIS AJINCA…FTW!

        btw – i think it’s totally awesome that the raps now have TWO euro bigs with girls’ names. nothing strikes fear into the hearts of the opposition than going aginst dudes named ‘andrea’ & ‘alexis.’

        • cesco

          For someone who is still admiring Chris/Christine from far away , I hope you realize that Andrea has been a first name for newborn males in Italy since the middle ages and perhaps earlier (Andrea Del Sarto , a famous painter was born in the 1400’s) . The British/Americans in their stupidity may have thought it was a female name . Come to of it , most Maritimers like most Americans do not know what the words ‘world civilization’ is about.

          • yertu damkule

            yes, thanks, i do realize that. back in 2009, when the Maritimes got the internet (it took that long, ’cause we didn’t get no power ’till ’08), i looked it up, and it’s true…italians have been giving their sons girls names for centuries. it’s fascinating…not just that, but there’s this whole other part of the world (europe)…they didn’t teach us nuttin’ ’bout dat in da school, ‘cuz we wuz always out doin’ da huntin’ & da fishin’, and preparing our mudhuts for winter (it lasts 364 days a year out here).

            • Statement

              Ready for a kitchen party…..welcome to the Ma-ri-times

          • Tom Liston

            I’m a born and bred Maritimer. Thank you for painting an entire region with the same brush.

          • pran

            u mad wop?

      • Theswirsky

        I hardly think what Triano did was benching Bargs. He sat him at the 6 minute mark of the 3rd quarter (which he almost always does… sits at the 6 minute mark of the 1st and 3rd), he just did it 30 secs early. Then what a minute or two in the 4th? Thats just a slap on the wrist.

      • Tim W.

        You said you’re willing to bet Davis and Johnson will be defending Howard during key stretches. I disagreed. I don’t think that’s nitpicking.

        I also never said that Bargnani defended Howard well. I just said Howard is the type of player he defends best. And he is. Bargnani defends best against big centers who don’t generally face up and don’t have the skills to go around him. Am I wrong?

      • Dookielove

        not sure if rap fans have a short memory or have been brainwashed by the massive amount of fools posting garbage about bargs. 2 real bad games and suddenly bargs cant guard bigs?…in the past the better the opponent the better bargs has played. lets hope he gets out of his slump tonight. if hes hurt.sit him…

      • KJ-B

        Are U serious??? DeRozan’s gonna LIGHT UP THE MAGIC brighter than the Amway Center Signage!!!!

  • knickz
    • knickz

      jose making a cameo lol

  • tonious35

    This Magic team ain’t the Magic team we played before at all. VC was traded into a J-Rich, a more enthusiastic player; R.Lewis became Gilbert Arenas; and Pietrus became “Ball”. Bass is used as a starter, Reddick will get his time, and Ryan Anderson can stroke it like Reddick too.

    This could get ugly considering how crappy we are on 3 pt coverage.

    • Statement


      The three point shooting will own us.

      • yertu damkule

        other than dwight, they’re pretty shyte defensively…and he likely won’t be matched up with the raps best offensive player. raps will definitely have a difficult time contesting them at the 3pt line…they do a horrible job of it as it is, but throw in two above avg (in terms of size & skill) 3pt shooters (hedo & anderson), throw redick & nelson into the mix as well, and then add j-rich to that, i wouldn’t be surprised if they launched 30 3’s. raps will have to pick their poison, since they can’t defend howard on the block AND limit all the 3pt options the magic will have. i have to think they’ll let bargs (or dorsey?) go 1-on-1 with dwight as best as possible, not cheat off the 3pt line to offer useless ‘help,’ and hope they have enough bodies to put howard on the line 40 times.

        IMO, only chance they (raps) have is to stay at home on the shooters, crash the boards, and try to get the magic into an up & down transition game. anything else plays into their strengths.

        • voy

          I agree. I hate when we double the post and leave dudes, who cant do anything else but shoot, wide open for the 3. If Howard wants to take 30 shots that fine by me. Lets ice everyone else.

  • Jason Buerns

    The raps are in tough. They are short handed right now and are having difficulty staying healthy. When they play elite teams in the league they are going to need all hands on deck. they played hard against the SPurs, but their lack of depth and no real superstar did them in.

    Maybe Colangelo can finally wake up and realize what this team desperately needs still to this day is a stud PG who can penetrate and gets steals and who can lead this team. DD is clearly coming into his own and Bargni is a good player. The rest are good pieces, but a star is needed.

  • KJP

    Can someone give me a Sonny update? Is he out for the season or what?

    • JamesJ

      It’d have to be a pretty hardcore back spasm to keep someone out for a season.. He’s still feeling back pain so he skipped out on the road trip, even after the road trip though his return is a big question mark.

  • Statement

    Quick question,

    Does the Republic still do Raptor Fan Fridays or is that off the grids?

    • Sam Holako

      RFF is still happening, on tonight. Just forget to plug it sometimes.

  • KJ-B

    So why not rest #7 tonight and save him for a winnable game vs MIA 2moro–I mean Numero Siete shouldn’t be (in) MIA (mode) for both games!

  • Statement

    Vernon Wells to Anaheim!!! Does Anthopolous know anything about basketball? Can we get him to GM for the Raps?