Gameday: Raptors vs Suns – Mar. 23/11

The Raptors avoid the snow and roll into Phoenix tonight in hopes of handing the Suns their second loss in as many nights

I’m not as obsessed with accumulating ping pong balls as I was, since there is still a huge element of chance in the draft (you know, since it’s a lottery). That two-game winning streak from the weekend that had a couple of us sweating (for lottery positioning), didn’t move the Raptors from the 5th spot (5th most ping pong balls that is).

However, it did prevent the Raptors from moving a half-game out of 4th worst (Washington is sitting 2.5 games behind us, and they lost to the Raptors on Friday).

Whatever, I have a feeling the Raptors will go 2-0 in winning the number one pick in a week draft year, again. It’s fitting, especially considering a few issues Steve and Chris Denker discussed in yesterdays podcast.

Injury Report

Linas Kleiza – Out
Amir Johnson – Day to day

Channing Frye – Day to day, should play
Steve Nash – Day to day, should play

Player Report

Jose Calderon
He arguably out-plays Westbrook in a win one night, then witnesses Lawson drop a triple-double another, all the while playing a consistent brand of controlled ball that I (we?) have taken for granted as the season is drawing to an end. Such is the curse of Calderon that has me partially happy that the off-season trade with Charlotte fell through. Could you imagine a PG rotation of Jack, Bayless and Barbosa?

He will get back about as much as he gives up to Nash, but the difference is the Raptors will be playing looser than the Suns since they are still fighting for a playoff spot, and will be warn out from last nights game.

The one thing I’ve been pining for from Jose is an in-game dunk. It’ll be ugly, but I wants it.

DeMar DeRozan
To Phd Steve’s delight, he’s won the argument of who has more upside, DeRozan or Weems. Looking back, even though Sonny looked good, it was fairly obvious and shouldn’t have even been a question.

VC needs to be accounted for, even though he’s coming off a BRUTAL game against the Lakers (7-23 from the field). He’s going to be tired, and is prime to disappear at any moment. However, he gets up to play against the Raps, so I don’t want to see any alley-oop reverse dunks from an out-of-bounds-play for the game.

For DeMar to be a consistent 20pt scorer, he’s going to need to get to the line much more. These last few weeks offer the opportunity to improve his slashing game, and if need be, Arsenalist can mentor him in drawing body contact from a bunch of sweaty dudes.

James Johnson
The best part about this kid is that he saved this team millions in the would-be contract they were going to offer Weems in the off-season. Not sure where all this Weems hate is coming from since he’s done nothing to provoke me, but tell me I’m wrong about this.

Reggie Evans
A nice weekend from Reggie in limited minutes. You know how many times Beast scored more points that he grabbed rebounds this season? Twice. He’s given this team a much needed boost, and his scoring has not come at the cost of a disjointed offense. Ed Davis is sweating as Reggie has picked right up where he left off before the injury. Oh, the Raptors are 9-14 with Evans in the starting lineup; that counts for something and makes me think a 3yr/$12millie deal (or something comparable in a 3 year deal) should be offered to him.

Andrea Bargnani
Looking forward to seeing him battle Gortat tonight, mostly because I own Martin in my fantasy league, and could use another 17pt 13reb 2blk night from him.

Channing Frye is a big concern for me as he has a tendency to own the Raptors; scoring an effortless 16 points on wide open shots the last time out. He’s coming off a monster 32pt 14reb game against the Lakers last night. I suspect we will see a lot of situational match-ups between Reggie/Andrea/Amir/Ed and Lopez/Gortat/Frye. Hopefully Triano gets it right.

The Line

The gamblers have the Suns as 9 point favourites with an over/under of 211. This line may have been posted before the triple over time loss to the Lakers last night. Might be tough to win by that margin after every Suns starter (Lopez played 10, but Gortat logged 53, I consider him the main center) played at least 40 minutes last night.

Phoenix is 3 games out of a playoff spot, and can’t afford to let some fatigue cost them a game against a weaker Raptor team. Should be a good game.

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