Tough loss last night, another gritty effort against a decent team from the West, but the silver lining was another step on the The Road to Anthony Davis, which now has three obstacles: Charlotte, Washington and tonight’s opponent, New Orleans.

The Hornets were the focal point in the offseason due to the much-publicized Chris Paul sweepstakes. A trade with the Los Angeles Lakers was controversially nixed by the NBA and the initial trade with the LA Clippers was re-worked so that the Hornets would also get star Eric Gordon so that the team would be somewhat competitive despite losing a superstar like Paul.

Well, hasn’t really turned out like that for the only NBA-owned franchise in the league. Eric Gordon, as we all know, has been hurt all year and will likely miss the remainder of the season. You know he’s in no rush to come back with the Hornets so far out of the playoff picture. With Sacramento playing slightly better recently, this team is well on it’s way to being the worst team in the West.

That being said, the Raptors are on the road, and any team in the NBA can be dangerous on their homecourt right? Nope. New Orleans is an abysmal 3-14 here, actually performing better on the road (5-12).

Let’s take a quick look at the matchups:

Point Guard
Spain vs. Venezuela. This is the most intriguing element of tonight’s tilt. Grevis Vasquez has kept the starting job even with Jarret Jack’s return, and he has done a decent job distributing the ball and has put up some very decent games recently. There’s a lot of similarities to Jose Calderon in playing style, but Calderon is clearly playing on a another level right now and should school the young upstart.
Edge: Raptors

Shooting Guard
A familiar face in Marco Belinelli lines up at the 2. When you’ve got a Raptor reject(is castaway a nicer word?) getting his name announced as a starter, you know the team is hurting a little on the talent side. We all know what Marco brings. The occasional shooting performance sprinkled in with a lot of mediocre games. One of the few game where DeMar DeRozan has a clear advantage and anything less then 8-10 FT attempts tonight by him will be unsatisfactory.
Edge: Raptors

Small Forward
Trevor Ariza vs. James Johnson. As well as James Johnson has been playing recently, he’ll still be in tough against an athletic shooter like Ariza. Capable of going off any given night, Ariza must be contained at the three-point line, which is a rich source for many of his 20+ point performances. Limit these attempts and make him put the ball on the floor, which he should be good at, but isn’t terribly comfortable doing. James just needs to stay consistent and keep doing what he’s been doing recently: Pick your spots offensively, be aggressive and maintain that defensive intensity.
Edge: Hornets

Power Forward
Gustavo Ayon has been a pleasant surprise for the Hornet’s. Has a good motor and is a lot like a poor man’s version of Luis Scola. Amir should be able to outperform Ayon but like pretty much any of our starter’s, consistency is an issue.
Edge: Raptors

Center
This is where the Hornets can have a real advantage. We all love Aaron Gray with his hustle and size, but Chris Kaman can be a beast, and is playing well right now. Gray is actually the one guy who might be able to slow him down and can match Kaman physically, but if the Hornets are smart and establish Kaman early, it’ll open up the floor for their decent shooters.
Edge: Hornets

Bench
The Hornets bench is, well, Jarret Jack. He may get a lot of minutes because it’s his old team and all that. We all know Jarret Jack can play, and if develops any chemistry with Kaman then he alone will outperform the likes of Kleiza, Barbosa, and Ed Davis.

In summary, this is a very winnable game folks, and that’s whats worrisome for Tank Nation. Unless you do something crazy like bench one of our better starters for the entire fourth quarter, but who would do that right? Right?

  • DC

    A-dub we want those ping pong balls. BC has already told Casey the starting lineup for the 4th quarter no matter what the score is. Carter, Forbes,Butler,Ed D, Alabi. why run our starter ragged right?

  • howlonghowlong

    Can you imagine a Raptors front court of Jonas Valanciunas, Anthony Davis, and Andrea Bargnani?

    • Nilanka15

      I don’t think any of these guys would be capable of guarding opposing small forwards.

      • howlonghowlong

        What I meant is having those three guys play PF/C spot (Thats 96 minutes to share).  Yeah I agree they can’t gaurd SF.  My bad “front court” does imply SF as well I just didn’t mean it that way.  I guess “Bigs” would have been more appropriate.

        • Nilanka15

          Gotcha.

          But some tough decisions would need to be made in 2-3 years, when all 3 would be deserving of 35 mins per game. 

          Then again, having too much talent would be a welcome problem to deal with 😉

      • howlonghowlong

        Exactly :)

        I don’t think the lakers were complaining when they had Odom/Pau/Bynum or when the celtics had KG/Perkins/Big Baby.  Talented depth is huge.  The only issue with that, we’d still need to find a SF.

    • Lorenzo

      Boner.

      Lookin’ like our own version of the Gasol-Bynum twin towers. And by this I mean length.

  • Draftstar

    My two concerns are Ed is developing; although, slower than we expected and Carter has got the old motor running. Another twenty games and Carter might be fully warmed up and ready for a spin – insert BC and Mr. Stefanski into the line up. The less time they have to sign WC the better!

  • Nilanka15

    Belinelli either shoots 3-17, or 14-17 tonight…there’s no in-between with him.

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    I see NO beating Toronto at home in a b2b for both teams as the Raptors tend to give away games on the regular with or without AB.

    • cesco

      With AB they won the Phoenix and Utah consecutive nights games where they hadn’t won since 2004 . The same scenario could have repeated itself last night and tonight especially with last night narrow loss without AB and the starters sitting out the last quarter . Casey will have to manage Andrea minutes when he returns as per instructions from the boss .

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        They also lost to a weak ass NJ team plus a winless Washington team…scored 62 points against Philly…with AB.

        • Raps4Ever

           I fail to see the point in bringing up the “with or without AB” to begin with (the blog entry made no mention), but are you so much of an idiot that you’re trying to sell a point that it makes no difference whether AB plays or not? Aside from everyone else in the world recognizing his value this year, simple fact is that the team is 6-7 with him, and 4-17 without. No difference?

          • Destro

            Still a losing record…

            • Raps4Ever

               Still insane

              • Destro

                Nah 6-7 is nothing to stick your chest out over.Its a sign how bad its gotten in Raptorland that people want to emphasize a 13 game sample size albeit a losing one to somehow be a WIN… 

                • Raps4Ever

                  Nobody doing that in this thread. It’s a sign of how bad it’s gotten that someone comes here to stick his chest out over missing the fn point.

                • Destro

                  Point is its still a losing team..22-60,6-7…were talking about a guy whos still a bad rebounder and mediocre defender on his best days,whos been marginally more efficient in his 6th season,take all the positives you want from that lol.

                • Steve

                  You can’t deny that they are a better team with Bargnani, that is his argument. Not just a marginally better team either. Considering the crap Bargnani has to play with, 6-7 is actually pretty impressive and can be considered a “win” considering the talent on the roster, or lack thereof. By no means does that satisfy anyone, except Gots2Go, who is a fan of .500 basketball and 1st round exits.

          • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

            Less lottery balls with AB than without?lol

            • Destro

              Exactly….still a lottery team with him…What does 6-7 prove ? With him they were 22-60 last year…its a forced narrative…

              • cesco

                Had he played every game this year and the team did improve overall like it did in February , it is not guaranteed they would have been a lottery team . The 6/7 record point to that possibility .

              • Steve

                Again, you can’t deny that Bargnani is an improved player this season in the games that he’s played. So you’d think the Raptors would still be 10-24 if Bargnani was healthy and played every game this season? If you do, that’s just laughable and you’re just here to bash him with your buddy Gots2Go, who suggested that Bargnani stole Ed Davis’s PF spot, and wanted to see Bayless start every game lmao.

    • CJT

      I am going to start using you to bet proline.  Just take what you say flip it and bet big money.  You suck at this.

  • sitnonDfence

    Derozan only showed up for one quarter last night… yes it was the third, which happens to be before the fourth… but still… If the kid wants to play, he should try and play the first half before worrying about playing in the fourth…

  • Destro

    Jarret Jack goes for 20 +

    • CJT

      OR…Gotstogo goes down on you.