I have a lot of pride for the Raptors; haven’t said that since 2001. I’m thinking about this team a bit differently since the all-star break (they’ve gone 2-2 which easily could be 4-0 given how close the Houston/Memphis games were), it’s not so much the lack of talent, but lack of consistency with them. We’ve seen a gradual improvement in both a game-to-game as well as the in-game effort being exhibited since the start of the season.

Good habits from the top (Casey) have trickled down and are finally starting to pay dividends.

Davis, JJ, DeRozan, Barbosa…Bayless and Kleiza to lesser extents (the Butler’s and Magloire’s have had their roles marginalized which also helps) all have shown improvements from the effort level they bring on a game-to-game basis; I’m too lazy to go and pull the numbers out, but I find myself cursing at the TV far less frequently than I was at the start of the season. Tell me you guys haven’t.

As for the Magic, doesn’t matter that they went 12-5 in February; all that matters is that Otis Smith has squandered Dwight Howard’s youth, save one finals run. I need to rant here a bit then I’ll move on: coming into the season where rampant speculation about your franchises cornerstone is running wild, Smith’s biggest moves are trading Brandon Bass for Glenda Davis (and paying a premium for the privilege) and resigning Jason Richardson. This is what Otis Smith did with his offseason; retarded. You know why? Ryan Anderson is a free agent at the end of this season. Why, Otis? Why?

Without Bargnani in the lineup, and the mismatch nightmare he causes for the Magic, the Raptors will need to utterly dominate the backcourt and wing positions to give themselves a chance at the game. This means that Jose needs to be lights out shooting, DeMar and JJ need to attack the Magic paint every chance they have and make Howard challenge them (hopefully get him into foul trouble), AND hope that Ryan Anderson and Howard don’t get into a nice inside-outside groove that could unravel everything.

Ideally, the Raptors need to put a leash on JJ Reddick and Hedo Turkoglu who dropped 21 and 15 respectively the last time, employ single coverage on defense (mix it up with some zone from time-to-time to keep ’em honest) and force Dwight to beat us from the line. Can’t let them create space for their perimeter shooters, and beat us on the long ball; I can’t stomach a night of watching 3-after-3 hit the bottom the net.

The Line

The Magic are 6 point favourites with an over/under of 186.5. Considering they are very well rested, having played just twice since the all-star game, compared to the Raptors who are on the 2nd night of a back-to-back (3-6 on the season in back-to-back situations) and playing their 3rd game in four nights (3-4 in those situations), the stage is set for a 8-9 point game for Orlando. That said, I’d like to see the Raptors play a faster pace, and not let the Magic get into their half-court sets. The Magic are the 2nd slowest team in the league, need to take advantage of that; our boys can sleep in May.

  • Kazandjianh

    “it’s not so much the lack of talent, but lack of consistency with them” think its the Opposite, because they have consistency. Just don’t have the talent to close out the games. That will all change next year though, hopefully.

    • Nilanka15

      There is no individual consistency from one game to the next.  Whether it’s Calderon, DeRozan, Bayless, Amir, or whoever, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether each player will play well or not.

      Yes, the team consistently finds a way to compete, but that’s in spite of fluctuations in individual performances.

      • CalgaryRapsFan

        Couldn’t it be said that consistency comes with higher quality players with greater, more legitimate talent ceilings?  Consistency is a quality of truly talented players and inconsistency is a quality of players who aren’t as talented, but forced to play above their heads, hence the inconsistency.

        Lack of talent is the factor, inconsistency is the result of the lack of talent on the Raptors’ roster.

        • Nilanka15

          Yup, can’t argue with that.

  • Tonious35

    A game where pressure is exerted on the Magic to beat us like last year.  Expected is that the Raptors to get beaten to a pulp, but like last meeting at ScamWay Arena, we might show resistence either keep it close, win, or choke a lead away.

  • cesco

    You may call Glen Davis , ‘Big Baby’ or ‘Cry Baby’ (thanks to KG) but never Glenda Davis .

    • Nilanka15

      Why not?

      • cesco

        Glenda is a feminine name to my knowledge , however knowing how the Anglos
        transformed a masculine name like Andrea into a feminine name  ,
        everything is possible .

        • Nilanka15

          It’s not much different that referring to “you know who” as Christine.

          • cesco

             Ya but Davis never had cornrows or was called Ru Paul by Shaq .

        • CJT

          What do you think guys mean when they call other guys bitches? 

          • cesco

            I would like to know who would dare to call Big Baby a ‘bitch’ unless he has a death wish of course .

            • CJT

              I betcha Big Mouth Garnett does.  Jamaal M probably does. etc. etc.

  • c_bcm

    I enjoyed the irony of you talking about team effort in the same paragraph about your laziness to check your stats. Good times.

  • Destro

    Is there a player that Calderon can keep in front of him,Jesusssss….
    If he is so good and runs a team so well why in games like tonight cant he be a 2nd scorer to help them win an easily winnable game…

  • Destro

    Magloire out there goonin…

  • Destro

    Thats game….D-12 worked Magloire…his offensive game is still kinda raw yet its come along way…

  • Destro

    The officiating has been trash in this game…Some of these calls are atrocious even by NBA standards…