These types of games are going to be few and far between: a totally winnable game that has nothing to do with the schedule, injuries or a perfect storm situation; the Cavs are just deficient in talent. Being it the first game of the year, and they got the Cavs, Casey and the rest of this lot can continue to build on the good things we saw in the pre-season.

Can’t knock the hustle, as long as they keep playing hard that is. This is the 1st game in a season of opportunities at changing this teams culture, perception and attitude. From the rise of Bargnani, to tight(ish) defensive rotations, to Calderon giving a rest to the clapping hands-defense, things are on the up-and-up. This season wont be defined by wins or losses; it’s all about step one, and that tone will need to be set against the Cavs tonight.

(I’m still stunned that two pre-season games and a handful of interviews with Casey have changed my view of this team for the better)

Match-ups

Point Guard
As bad as Calderon was defensively, there were always guys who made him look like Gary Payton; Ramon Sessions is one of those guys. The guy can’t move laterally (zero pick-and-roll defense), is not much of an athlete, but manages to do most of his offensive damage in the paint. His jumper isn’t great, so Calderon can afford to play off of him a bit, and force him to beat the Raps with a jumper; I can live with that strategy even if he drops 20 in the process. Keeping him off the pick-n-roll, where he can do more damage, is paramount.
Edge: Raptors

Shooting Guard
Anthony Parker is still the starter for the Cavs, but they are pretty deep at the 2 (Boobie off the bench). DeMar should have no problem’s whatsoever with anyone the Cavs throw at him. I’m cutting this short, between DeRozan, Barbosa and Butler, the Raptors have the depth and the ability to throw enough different looks at the Cavs to keep them off balance the whole night.
Edge: Raptors

Small Forward
Omri Casspi is someone I would have loved the Raptors to pick up in the off-season, and it didn’t cost the Cavs much; JJ Hickson. We could have easily have made a similar offer of Amir Johnson had we known Aaron Gray was in the play fo us. Regardless, he will give James Johnson a hell of a time on the floor. He is a solid rebounder, and makes his jumpers; keeping Johnson out on the perimeter and a step further from swatting his weak-side blocked shots.
Edge: Cavs

Power Forward
Don’t know enough about Thompson and Harangody to really give my two cents here, but Jamison will drop his 18pts/7reb tonight, I have no doubt. That said, he will surrender 24pts/8rebs on the other end, take that how you will. The 36 year old will hit a couple annoying off-balance floaters that somehow hit the bottom of the mesh, but will provide little value other than being a mentor for Tristan. I like Bargnani and Davis in the match-up as they both will give a little flavour on the perimeter and in the paint.
Edge: Raptors

Center
Varejao has the ability to do nothing the entire game, then grab an offensive rebound and put it back for the win with less than a second left on the clock. I would love to have him play for the Raptors. I think he would be fantastic to lineup with Bargnani in the front court as he can make a lot of hustle plays and win small battles all over the floor. I don’t see this game being won by Cavs at the 5, at best, they draw even with the Raptors centers…that’s just me (Varejao missed most of last season with an injury)
Edge: Raptors

The Line

I was stunned to see it, but Vegas has the Cavs as 3.5 point favourites with an over/under of 197. It’s super unlikely that this game will be in the mid-to high 90s, so go with the under. I personally think the Raptors take this by 5 in an ugly win. Of the first 10 games we play this year, 3 of them are winnable (two against the Cavs), while this team probably wont win 30% of their games this year, 3-7 in the early going is doable.

Hopefully league pass broadband works tonight, Arse has the post-game.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

  • Buschfire

    Cheers to finally getting our game back, and to the first game of the Season! Lets go Raptors!! Develop those young players, and fight everynight to come up short so we can draft a SF or PG!

    • cesco

      ” fight everynight to come up short ” , not very good syntax I believe .

  • Matt52

    I give the Cavs the edge at PG (Irving off the bench will have a field day with Calderon and Bayless), SF, and C (Varejo appears to be healthy and is better than anything the Raptors have at the 5-spot.

    Cavs win by 8 in a sloppy affair.

    • Sam Holako

      You could make that point. My only point is Irving has zero pro experience. John Wall didn’t kill our PGs last year. The best answer was probably to have the edge set at even.

      • Blind Man

        Why do I get the feeling that if we’d drafted Irving and traded Jose and Bayless to Cleveland, we’s still claim we win this matchup?

    • Matt52

      Whoops.  got this one wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/nalextaylor Alex Taylor

    The battle of the bad rosters … somehow still can’t wait!

  • Triano?

    The Raptors have the edge at C?  I’m not sure if you are serious.  Varejao is better than all of our 5’s combined.  

    • Sam Holako

      I don’t know about that. He doesn’t have the size to bang with Gray, and Amir isn’t terrible. I just think the Raptors have more depth at Center than the Cavs do.

      • Brian B

        Neither Varejo nor AJ is a center, but Varejo is a far better player. ESPN Rank 85 v 190 – not even close. Better than anyone Toronto can muster. When you don’t really HAVE a center, you can’t be better at the position. I call “homeritis”.

        • Sheptor

          I would have to agree. Cavs get edge here, plus Varejao loves playing the Raps from what I can remember. I would put an athletic guy like Amir out on Varejao rather than a clumsy banger like Gray.

        • Sam Holako

          I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but never homeritis of this team. After thinking on it, I may have over shot on giving the Raptors the edge.

  • Adriiian

    Let’s go Raps! Should be a good game!

    • Brian B

      “Good” and either “Raptors” OR “Cavs” are not allowed in the same neighbourhood. Excited to see Irving and Thompson though.

  • FAQ

     “…the Cavs are just deficient talent.”….. and the Raptors aren’t..???

    This will be a defensive battle, because both teams can’t score.

    And the winner is …….????!!!!!!!!

    • Brian B

      You mean, Toronto can’t defend, and can Varejo make up for Jamieson’s disinterest? I don’t see this as defensive – more likely a sprint. Curious to see what Irving & Thompson bring, but otherwise expect it to brutal.

  • KJ-B

    I dunno about all the bad team vs good team stuff, although it seems very obvious, with/out a shortened training camp and traditional off season BUT I’m SUPER pumped, just to see another GAMEDAY on RR!!!!

    LET THE GAMES (name calling, pettiness and #7 supporters v #7 detractors) BEGIN!!!

  • Truthkiller

    Varejao is probably the best defender playing in this game period but this is Cleveland, the worst team in the East chalk up the W for the Raps. Demar goes for 30, heard it here first.

  • notstupid

    where can I place bets on the game??

  • Akash_singh

    power forward and point guard, that’s it………and only if bayless’s roll is minimal.

  • KJ-B

    For the Record: I’m picking DeRozan for “Most Improved” and Top 5 in scoring, if #7 lends a possession or two each quarter!

  • leftovercrack

    Ed Davis, Amir and JJ looking like solid pieces. Depressing how badly Bayless blows. Calderon is going to be our starter

  • O D

    Im invoking the Cam Newton effect! In it to win it but most days coming up short uggh!
    I REALLY WANT Casey to treat this season like its preseason where the good coaches arent playing to win at any cost theyre playing to develop. I just want the core to get better this year, to the point that with a couple more pieces we are solid! God forgive me! No matter what circumstance Ill never hedge for a draft pick ever again!! Im going to follow out my instincts on what our best prospects are to become good in the near future, and sadly that is playing basketball like its practiceball.. Hard practiceball. I really think that DCasey should throw out three man units, well develop faster than our hormone injected adolescents.

  • O D

    Ive got it!! Im rooting for the Raptors to be a top 4 team IF we drop out of that 4th seed we concede mediocrity, and go straight development. Done & done!

  • Synon

    On pace for 66 wins baby!