The Cavs are 3-2, and the Raptors should be 3-2; this is going to be an interesting season to say the least. The other night I had a thought that really made me uncomfortable; what if the Raptors win more games than they should? There are already lots of interesting themes developing (insider required). Couple that with the number of absolutely brutal teams there are in the east, and the solid effort being turned in so far game after game, and you could make the case that the Raptors could surprise and over achieve this season; jeopardizing their lottery status in the summer.
I know there are positives to both sides of this coin, but I’d rather grab at least one more solid draft pick, then try to make a run at things; need as many horses as you can get.
The Cavs frontcourt kept them in the game against the Raptors on opening night, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, but an even attack from the Raptors spurred by ball movement (35 assists) and solid defensive rotations were more than they could handle.
Irving showed signs of promise, but he’s just not ready to be handed the reigns just yet. Sessions hurt the Raptors with his dribble penetration and three point shooting; nothing from mid-range. Calderon needs to close-out on him faster, and force him into a waiting defender. Same thing with Gibson, except I’d he’s less of a threat to get to the rack. Bayless will be a game-time decision, but the Raptors could use some of his off the bounce attack to mix things up and keep the Cavs defense guessing. Anthony Carter will be counted on to provide spurts of solid relief. I’m the first to admit I was wrong about his effectiveness; a couple minutes here and there is doable for the guy.
Every Time DeRozan took the ball to the rim, he either scored or got put on the line. The Cavs don’t have the shot blocking ability to challenge DeMar when he gets to the rim. He has to keep on attacking Anthony Parker, who just doesn’t have the foot speed to keep up. Barbosa will do the same to Gibson, who I can’t recall doing anything of value in the first game.
Butler and Johnson did a good job of keeping Casspi off the board, and he hasn’t done much this season since, but some guy named Alonzo Gee stepped up for the Cavs. With the performances that Butler has turned in the last games, the small forward spot is stabilizing some. As long as whoever is manning the 3-spot puts defense first, and tries to avoid taking retarded shots, the Raptors should do well.
A repeat performance from Jamison would go a long way tonight; Bargnani and Davis kept Antawn to 6-20 shooting from the field. Bargnani couldn’t find his shot last week against the Cavs, but has since remedied that. With him going to the rack as often as he’s popping jumpers, he will be putting a lot of pressure on the Cavs frontcourt to step-up. The Raptors would have the frontcourt locked if Ed Davis would just come back. Since his solid performance against the Cavs last week, the sophomore has all but vanished. He could find his game tonight against the only team he’s played well against this season; I hope anyways. It was great to see Tristan Thompson play well, and he’s done a pretty good job so far considering, but the Cavs overstepped in taking him 4th with Valanciunas and Vesely on the board.
I foolishly didn’t give the Cavs the edge at center last game, and was proved wrong. Varejao still has a great deal to offer, putting up 14pts 10rebs (7 offensive) almost single handedly keeping the Cavs hanging around and in the game. Things have looked downhill for Amir since the first two games of the season, and there wasn’t much there for Magloire to begin with. Varejao will do his best to keep them in the game, but the Cavs have less talent than the Raptors.
The gamblers have the Raptors as 4 point favourites, with an over/under of 190. The Cavs and Raptors have found themselves to be in an interesting situation so far this season. Both are doing better than expected, and playing hard. The Cavs took advantage of an easier schedule, beating the Pistons, Nets and Bobcats. The Raptors on the other hand should be 3-2 heading into tonight’s game. Bet the line; Raptors win 92-86.