If you’re more “sports fan” than “basketball fan” in Toronto, you’re probably not reading this. The Leafs are eliminated (mercifully, finally), yes, but the boys of summer have started back up and have their home opener tonight. The Rogers Centre will be packed with 50,000 to see Henderson Alvarez shut down the Massholes.
But if you’re strictly a “Raptor fan,” or card-carrying member of Tank Nation™, then your eyes will be on the Raptors in Basketball Country, Indiana. Of course, while the Pacers jockey for playoff seeding, currently sitting 3rd in the East by the narrowest of margins, the Raptors are jockeying for ping pong balls. A streak of 4 wins in 5 games had dropped the Raptors all the way to 7th in lottery odds, but a pair of losses over the weekend has them right back in the mix at 6th but just a game from returning to 4th. That 3-spot slide is a 7.6% slide in chances of getting uber-prospect Anthony Davis as the new “face” of the franchise. Should we lose for mere percentage points, and forego the “intangible” value of winning now? That, as always, is for the commenters to
argue about using nothing but blatant homophobic remarks discuss.
Rest assured, as much as the fanbases may want to forego it, this game will actually be played on the hardwood. The Pacers have won the previous meetings by scores of 90-85 and 95-90, so betting on a 5-point loss seems prudent. Hollinger sees it as a 9-point game, which could be exaggerated by the rested nature of Indiana, the Raptors on a travel back-to-back, and Andrea Bargnani’s status being doubtful, as his calf tightened up again in yesterday’s game against the Thunder. Bargs’ status is yet to be confirmed by the team, but it seems incredibly risky to play him just a day after re-aggravating an injury that has put him on the shelf twice this year.
The tale of the tape is below. You can expect an iso-heavy attack from the Pacers that will see them spend a lot of time at the line. If Bargs’ can’t go, the team is simply too undermanned to keep up. Ed Davis and Amir Johnson will likely be in foul trouble against Roy Hibbert and David West, while Danny Granger and Paul George shouldn’t face too much opposition on the wings. DeMar DeRozan had a horribly inefficient game against the Thunder, and with George having become a premiere wing defender in just his sophomore season, he could be in for another rough night. Jose might be able to score with Darren Collison, but it won’t matter much.
Oh and hey, welcome Leandro Barbosa back! So at least we’ll know how to defend one player on the team…chase him down in transition and foul him!
Sorry this is a bit brief. Not a lot to hypothesize about for a game that means the world to one good team and means nothing to one bad team. I’m also on my way out the door for the Jays’ opener. I’m sure I’ll be lambasted for such Rap-blasphemy, but hey, at least there’s a pre-game post for people to comment on and further the relevant discussions. After all, if the Raptors go on a run or somehow win, that means Bargnani sucks!
I’m going with Pacers 92, Raptors 81, Paul George with a 20-piece, and we don’t see Bargs until 2012-13.