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.

Match-ups

Point Guard
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.
Edge: Raptors

Shooting Guard
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.
Edge: Raptors

Small Forward
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.
Edge: Even

Power Forward
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.
Edge: Raptors

Center
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.
Edge: Cavaliers

The Line

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.

  • Nilanka15

    Irving had a poor first game, but has averaged 17pts, 5asts, 4rebs on 53% shooting since then.  Calderon better be ready, especially considering Irving will be extra motivated after getting completely owned by Calderon in the opener.

    • 511

      I was thinking just that as I read this. Irving scored twenty last night in their win and seems to be figuring things out at this level. This game will be anything but a slam-dunk; could actually be a good game. Although … I have to say, after watching the Bulls beat Atlanta last night in the last second (after being behind for much of the game) and then seeing a bit of Kobe being Kobe against Houston, I had to acknowledge that we (Raps) have a ways to go, yet. 

      • 511

        PS: I was thinking that more – about a ways to go yet – watching the Lakers/Rockets. Early on, was great. 

  • Malefax

    I was saying before the season I thought the Raptors would not be in the bottom 5 (and hence would not get a top 5 pick). Cavs, Nets, Wizards, Bobcats and Pistons all look like they will be worse than them, and that’s just in the East. Sacramento and Utah could be worse in the west. A top 5 pick for the Raptors isn’t out of the question (if Calderon is injured for any amount of time, its a certainty), but it’s not all that likely, in my view.

    • Tim

      You hit it on the head.  IF Calderon keeps playing like he has been, the Raptors will overachieve this season.  WHEN Calderon tweaks his hammy, the Raptors will be really terrible.

  • draftedraptor

    Cavaliers have won their last two games against Charlotte and Newjersey. This is not going to be a easy game.

    Kylie Irving is shooting a scary 53% and is proving to be a very good defender (two blocks last game). With Sessions backing him up I would give the edge to Cavs at the PG.  

    Cassipi and Gee are not much to concerned.However, Samuels and Tristan performed very well for Cavs off the bench last game. I would give Bargnani the edge over Antawn. As a team their forwards have been performing better than ours.

  • Hound

    This is an early trap game for the raps. If they think they are better than Cleveland because they won on opening night and played well against Dallas, Orlando and NY, coupled with Cleveland playing a back to back, we will lose this game. An early gutcheck on how well the coaching staff will have them ready. 

    If we come out strong with a great defensive effort. Outscore them 28-15 or something like that in the first, things should be ok. But if we come out slow, we will be in trouble.

    As for tanking to get a good pick, I am totally against it. You cannot shrink to greatness in any business. The culture of losing will overide the high pick. Start winning, players will be more willing to stay, or come to Toronto and we will be a better team. The teams that consistently are in the lottery have not been winning championships lately and the chance to get a lebron type is rare.

    • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com/ JT’s Hoops Blog

      I agree, the Raptors should not be too confident.  Cleveland is certainly playing beyond expectations and despite having a big lead, the Raptors still just squeaked by them.  Oh btw, personally I think the raptors should be 5-0 considering they should have won thjose games against Dallas and Orlando. 

    • tonious35

      Winning makes the scouting department work harder to find late 1st round and 2nd Round gems.  Colangelo should not bail out work for the scouting department by trading picks anymore.

  • sleepz

     “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.”

    Says you? Valanciunas may indeed turn out to be a good pro but he’s not a pro yet and hasn’t played a minute of NBA ball. Has Vesley even seen any burn this year?

    Nothing has been decided yet regarding these players but watching the handful of games thus far and listening to the Cavs feed vs the Bobcats last night they don’t seem too dissapointed they got a young big man who’s offensive game is improving steadily but also blocks shots and rebounds consistently well, and has a high motor. 

    • CJT

      You do know that Valanciunas is a pro right? 

  • rapsallsay

    Raptors will win this game….

  • Red Baron

    What would really be nice to see tonight to keep the positive Raps Vibe going is one Mr. E. Davis get out of his funk and drop a 10 point, 12 rebound, 2 block game on the Cavs…

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    TO PG > CLE PG

    TO SG > CLE SG

    TO SF = CLE SF

    TO PF > CLE PF

    TO C < CLE C

    TO Bench = CLE Bench

    In a battle of Lottery ball chasers I think that the Raptors 1st win over Cleveland should give them enough confidence to pull out a win at home. Cleveland has been playing better ball since the Raptors beat them but are on a back 2 back even though none of their starters played more than 30 minutes last nite.

    TO 110 CLE 107

    • Marlon

      Good job, you just repeated exactly what the article said..

  • Nilanka15

    There was a recent Casey sound bite talking about teaching Bargnani how to exploit mismatches on offense.  Really?  Was this not something Triano should’ve tried to teach Bargnani?!?!? 

    The more I learn about Casey, the more I hate Triano.

    • mountio

      Im with ya there ..

    • Hound

      couldn’t agree more! which begs the question: Why did BC elevate him to head coach and then keep him there for so long? Pisses me off

    • p00ka

      I’m all for praising Casey, but isn’t it time to leave Triano alone? He didn’t have the knowledge and/or character to be an NBA head coach, but nobody can say he didn’t work hard nor have his heart in the right place. Besides, we don’t know whether he or one of his assistants didn’t try the same. If they did, we don’t know whether they did it poorly, or AB didn’t learn well, and just didn’t talk about it to the press. Don’t worry about the past, be happy about now. Where’s Dr Phil when you need him? Get over it.

      • Hound

        You are right. I am throwing away my JT bobble head (which doesn’t have the head on it anymore) and looking onward and upward. Go Raps

      • WHAT THE

        party POOPA!

      • p00ka_is_a_fish

        No we will not, if you feel like leaving Triano then go ahead. But THE RAPTORS REPUBLICANS will not ever forget the worst Canadian NBA head coach Jay Triano.

      • Nilanka15

        You never seize to find something to argue about.

        • Nilanka15

          *cease*

        • p00ka

          As you say all the time, this is a place to exchange opinions, right? You don’t like being called out for stupidity do you? The team you supposedly cheer for is doing everything right, and as usual, you never cease to find something to whine about, because you’ve always got the past to fall back on. Pathetic.

  • KJ-B

    DeRozan’s rhythm is beautiful tonight–that shot looks great! He’s feeling and thus playing confident–feet are working as 1…He actually missed a trey!!!

  • Captain Haddock

    How good did Andrea look today? I just went out and bought 7 crates of Primo Pasta, and I hate pasta!

    • p00ka

      I hear Nilanka and theswirsky would like a case, and if you can catch the little jackass with multiple handles between him switching them, he’d like some rammed up his %#^@!

      • Nilanka15

        If pasta boy maintains this level of play, he’ll definitely get my vote for an all star. I may even befriend cesco.