Toronto Raptors Indiana Pacers January 31, 2011

Injuries

Toronto
Reggie Evans – Out
Leandro Barbosa – Out
Linas Kleiza – Day to day
Sonny Weems – We all wish he was out

Indiana
Brandon Rush – Out
Tyler Hansborough – Day to day

Match-ups

Point Guard
Raise your hand if you’ve been a bit disappointed with Darren Collison; I know I have.  Could simply be the kid was in a good situation for him in New Orleans, and the powers that be knew it, and traded him for an athletic wing the first chance they got. Regardless, he’s still dropping 14pts 5ast a game, which isn’t terribly hard/expensive to replace should Chris Paul up and leave. Darren will have his quickness advantage from the tip tonight, as neither Calderon nor Bayless can defend quick guards effectively. However, last game, Collison only got 1 assist, so you can bet Triano’s been working on rotations and help defense in preperation for tonight’s game as all his shots came inside the paint.

I want to give Calderon some due as Saturday’s game against the Wolves wasn’t one of his best, but he found ways to contribute grabbing 9 rebounds and swiping 2 steals since he couldn’t get his offense motoring enough.
Edge: Toronto

Shooting Guard
A sure fire way to ruin DeRozan is to have him take a backseat to Bargnani and Weems. I know it’s been touched on, but you can’t have both DeMar and Sonny basically play the same position at the same time and expect both to play well; it doesn’t work like that. Why in baby jebus’ name Sonny got a promotion to the starting lineup out of nowhere is beyond me. The proof is in the pudding folks, DeMar was getting into a damn nice groove over the last month (coincidentally Weems was injured) and as soon as Weems gets back and plays along side… BOOM… it all gets flushed down the loo.

Dunleavy can’t beat DeRozan off the dribble, but he’s good at finding people off the bounce; so DeMar will have to force him into help defense and hope the rest of the team does their job on rotations. Offensively, DeRozan can take him off the dribble every-time as Mike has zero athleticism; which will also help him on the boards since Dunleavy is just a touch better than Bargs on the glass. The guy’s been around, and has the right pedigree to be a player in the league, but will rely on his wit more than raw ability.
Edge: Toronto

Small Forward
I can’t help but worry wonder if Weems gets another chance to follow-up his brutal performance against the Wolves with one against Granger tonight. It’s going to make all the difference if you ask me since Wright is a better defender, and can help to keep the Raptors in the game defensively while they get their offense going. Granger likes to jack up shots quickly, and I like Wright’s speed and length in challenging those ridiculous shots.

I’m not saying Wright is the answer to Granger; he’s clearly not. What I am saying is that Wright plays better defense than Weems, and wont be hurting DeRozan’s offensive output while on the floor. I don’t have the evidence to support this other than what I’ve observed with/without Weems in the rotation. Look, I like Weems, he’s Jamario Moon 2.0 with more upside; but just like Moon, he takes bad shots and does a lot of things that frustrate us while doing some good. With Bargs on the court, Triano needs to minimize the hurt as best as he’s allowed too he can. One things for sure, if Granger has a repeat performance from the first time these guys played this season (21pts 9rebs 5ast 1blk 1stl), the Raptors will lose their 12th in a row.
Edge: Indiana

Power Forward
Even if Hansborough plays, the man wont be 100% which gives the Raptors an advantage, or disadvantage depending on who they replace him with, since Posey is 3rd on the depth chart at the four. What I’m afraid of is Foster getting some more burn then he might have had the normal rotation been in place. The guy hasn’t played a great deal this season, but has a habit of being more than a handful on the glass and around the rim. I especially don’t want to see him play a lot of 5 where Bargs will do all that he can to avoid matching up.

All things equal, I like Davis/Johnson (you see how I snuck Ed in first even though he plays behind Amir there, yea?) in most match-ups since they are more than willing to mix it up. What kills them on a game-to-game basis is wondering which Bargnani will show up to help defend in the paint. If they are left to worry about two guys in the paint, then their job is infinitely harder.

Love Saturday’s performance against a solid Wolves front court by Davis; an efficient 15pts 11rebs was one of the few bright spots.
Edge: Toronto

Center
5-24fg 3reb; if that happens again, or Bargs comes close, this team is done for. Bargnani can defend Hibbert in the post reasonably well, an can take McRoberts/Hibbert off the dribble on the perimeter any time he chooses, it all comes down to which Bargnani shows up for this game.
Edge: No Idea

Keys to the Game

Crash the Boards
The Pacers are the 5th best rebounding team in the league,  and have shooting guards and small forwards who rebound better than our starting center. There will be a lot of pressure on Davis/Johnson to grab as many rebounds as possible, with anything coming from Bargs as gravy.

Attack. Attack. Attack.
While Hibbert is good for a couple blocks a game, he’s by no means an intimidator in the paint. DeRozan can get into the lane anytime he wants against Dunleavy, and shouldn’t bail out Mike by taking many jumpers. Bargnani also needs to put the ball on the floor and get the Pacers defense back-pedalling.

Whether the Storm
If you haven’t heard, Jim O’Brien got axed by Bird yesterday, and the usual response from the team is to come out strong and energized; since it always has to be the coaches fault the players are lazy and don’t do what they should be right? I expect the Pacers to come out guns blazing at home, and not relenting one bit. If the Raptors don’t roll over early, and can keep it close, they can steal one in the 4th.

The Line

The gamblers have the Pacers as 9 point favourites with an over/under of 209.5.  As I see it, there are two outcomes:

  1. The Raptors show up and play a close game decided by a possession or two
  2. The Raptors get blown out

Fortunately, we will know which Raptor team shows up before House starts, so we can plan our night accordingly.

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