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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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