The road trip finally comes to a close as the 4-17 Raptors head to Portland to face the 8-12 Trail Blazers. The Raptors are 0-4 on this trip with an average losing margin of 15.25 points, so it hasn’t been pretty. And it doesn’t get any better, as they head home to face the Nets, Mavericks and Rockets after this. Hey, maybe they’ll beat the Mavs since yours truly will be back for Christmas and in the house.

But that’s looking ahead past tonight’s likely loss. Tip-off is at 10 p.m. EST on TSN2.

Tale of the Tape
Offensive Rating – Portland 103.9 (15th), Toronto 102.5 (22nd)
Defensive Rating – Portland 108.8 (26th), Toronto 109.9 (29th)
Pace – Toronto 91.9 (16th), Portland 91.4 (21st)
Strength – Toronto Ball Control (3rd in TO%), Portland Balance (4 with 16+ PPG)
Weakness – Toronto 3-Point D (39.1%, 27th), Portland Bench (Worst Ever)

Positional Breakdown
Point Guards – Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon v. Damian Lillard and Ronnie Price
Advantage:
Portland
Don’t shoot me, because I know there have been some knocks on Lillard (poor defense, the “next Damon”, whatever that means), but the kid is a real treat to watch. Maybe there are some flaws in his game still, but he’s also a rookie coming from a small-ish program making a HUGE leap in competition level to the NBA, and he’s been good for 19 points and six dimes a night while stroking 38% from beyond the arc. He’s a match-up nightmare for this team, assuming Lowry still isn’t “into it” as has been the case sometimes lately. If we get the ‘good’ Lowry it’ll be a fun match-up, but if not, the advantage Calderon provides over Price won’t matter much at all.

Wings – DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Terrence Ross and Linas Kleiza v. Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Victor Claver and SashaPavlovic
Advantage:
Portland
Is this the worst bench in the NBA? You’d have to think so, considering some of the players who get regular burn with this squad. Still, it’s not like the Raptors are flush with wing talent. Matthews and Batum are significant upgrades on anything Toronto can counter with. Even worse, they both hit from deep with regularity, an area the Raptors have done opponents a favor in regularly. If these two are left open all night when players cheat to help and don’t recover, it’s going to be over quickly (and then close again because this bench is so bad, and then over quickly once more when the starters return). I don’t have a Pietrus update at this time, but it saddens me deeply that him being out of the lineup actually upset me the other night. Pietrus. That’s how bad things have gotten, that a guy who’s been here for four games is now a key player.

Bigs – Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis v. LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson, Meyers Leonard and Jared Jeffries
Advantage
: Toronto
Just a slight nod here for the Raps, and it comes from the bench, of course. Aldridge is hands down the best big in the game and Bargnani will struggle to guard him, but Hickson is still raw and can be exploited. We got ‘good’ Amir last game, so he’s likely to disappear tonight but hopefully he shows up, as this is a good match-up for him – he can help with the Aldridge duties and should be able to make hay out of the pick-and-roll with Hickson guarding him. If Davis’ finger has healed, he could have a big game, too, as the Blazers are mediocre on the glass with their bench being especially atrocious. Jonas…well, he’s hit the wall. I don’t feel comfortable predicting a bounce-back game until we’ve seen it from him.

The Pick
Vegas – Portland -3.5
Hollinger Power Rating – Portland -3.5
Blake – Toronto by 6

No, seriously, I’m taking the Raptors. It’s mostly because I’m getting tired of being so negative all the time of late, but also because I can envision a scenario in which the Raptors galvanize based on being fed up with themselves and actually play a good, complete game. Make fun all you want, but occasionally you’ve gotta show some faith in your team and just be a fan.


  • sitnonDfence

    FYI – Batum (back) and Matthews(ankle) are doubtful for tonight.

    • Sam Holako

      Batum’s injuries are killing two of my fantasy leagues…

      • sitnonDfence

        hence why i know this , i feel your pain Sam. Batum went down and i grabbed matthews of waivers. And now this…

        • Sam Holako

          Both the leagues I’m in are deep, so my options were Jimmer Freddette or worse…

        • BigMan

          How did you grab Matthews off of waivers? 6-team league?

          But my Batum down is killing me too.

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      #BooBC@TheACC

      • what the

        what about BooAB

        • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

          #BooABC@TheACC 

  • mike, prague

    Last sentence VERY WELL said by Herr Blake and some of you haters out there take an example!

    • Jag

      We are all a fan of the franchise but were are not fans of the GM, many of the players and how the team is being run. 

    • Nilanka15

      Being a fan, and “having faith” don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

      • what the

        so did you have faith in gary forbes or were you a fan of his?

  • Mr. Belding

    Hey Hey Hey Hey…WHAT is going ON here?

    • Zack Morris

      Screechios!

  • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

    PO 107 BC’s Andrea Raptors 90

    This game could go either way a close game if Raps come out and play tough on a B2B and/or Matthews/Batum don’t play or a blow out if Raps are looking to get back home and play half heartily.

    I want to see Val go up against Meyers Leonard.

    Matthews & Batum are game time decisions- is Pietrus out for Raptors?

    • sleepz

      Portland is hurt and not deep. Doesn’t take much to beat the Raps but if they get smacked by Portland tonight I would imagine changes are coming mad quick.

      Remember, BC said the schedule would turn around at some point. They just need to make sure they haven’t dug too deep a hole by then. LOL

      Too big a hole for what? For him and Gheradini to fit in together? lol

  • KJ-B

    Train wrecks can be so addictive–that might be the ONLY reason I keep watching this version of the Raps starring the WORST DRAFT PICK in Raptor team history –> -7…

    [Sidebar: Will TRoss show out 2nite after BryCo removing 6 ft hole of dirt for his Raptor career yesterday, being from Washington Huskies/Northwest?  He sure played well vs Terrence Jones’ Rockets–his boy growing up…]

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      TRoss is from Portland born & raised…

      BC shitted on TRoss yet chose him (had him raked higher on Raps draft big board than ADrummond- really?) over ADrummond who is out playing Val so far in his rookie year whereas Val has seemingly hit the rookie wall before January.

      I want to see the game inwhich BC and/or Casey gets the boot…..with the boot spur tip out of the TDot!

      • KJ-B

        AHAHAAA!!! More Drama than the Young & Restless…starting to be a broke joke though, like fo’ real!

        I’ll never understand the mind of BryCo…good decisions or bad!  But yeah, Imma watch cause somethins about to go dowwwn–reminds me of December 2004 when VC got traded…

        • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

          What’s wrong in the TDot?

          It’s as easy as 
           
          one, two, three
           
          A-B-C (AB BC)

          BC is a snake that has come out of his hole to slither around to make excuses abound to try to confound but we all know how BC gets down it’s time to run his ass out of town- now how that sound!!!

      • Morgan

        I wanted ADrumm on draft night, but I don’t see how he is outplaying big Val. Their numbers are virtually even across the board, and while Val gets a few more minutes of playing time per game, he does play with much crappier front court teammates, and is less of a physical specimen at this point than Drummond is.

    • p00ka

      the only reason you watch is because you are a sad sack of shit with no life. As am I.

      • Statement

        Lol!

        We are all masochists.  I blame Michael Jordan for hooking me on basketball.

      • Jamshid

        You are one sad and angry little man. Stick to sharing your comments and stop insulting anyone you don’t agree with.

  • RapthoseLeafs

    Keys to a win:

    Stop playing like we have.
    lol

    Actually …
    1) Lowry needs to maintain his passing, right to the end. He snagged his 8th assist, with 5:26 left in the 3rd Quarter (game tied 60-60). Some scoring from him would help, but his passing was one key to Raps doing well.  His 9th assist was for Kleiza’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in the game.

    2) Bargnani and Demar both need to show up at the same time.

    3) Our Bench has to be engaged when it counts. The wheels came off with 9 minutes left in the game with Calderon, Ross, Davis & Amir on the Court. Raps were down by 2 points (81-79). By the time the Starters arrived, the momentum had changed dramatically, and it was all over but the crying.

    4) Amir needs to start. I’ll repeat myself to no avail, but Raptors put too much pressure on the younger players. Or maybe it’s … we count on them too much. Now moving Jonas back to the Bench could hurt his confidence. And Ed is still finding himself, so AJ should be the guy to start. Unless we need Gray – on occasion – to handle large Bigs, or just need 3 or 4 good fouls from him.

    5) Minute distribution. Casey is overplaying guys like DD, and Andrea. 42 minutes on the 1st night of a back-to-back, is too much for Demar. Bargnani should’ve been pulled with 3 minutes left in the 1st Quarter, and inserted sooner in the 2nd Quarter.

    6) Post play. I know many feel a guy like Andrea takes too many shots from the perimeter, and they’d have a point. But – and this isn’t just with AB – I find putting the ball into the hands of our Bigs in the post is seriously lacking. Whether it’s play calling, or just lack of vision, this area of Raptors game needs more attention. Our Bigs seem to fight, only to be looked off.

    7) Is it me, or do we try to play fast transitition ball, yet don’t have the players for this kind of game. Yes, we can work the occasional fast break, but for the most part, Raps needs to slow the pace down. IMO

    8) Casey needs to adjust his thinking out there. Time-outs need to be approached with different tactics. The 2.1 second time-out before the half (against L.A.C.) was a terrible time-out usage. Throw the ball up, dribble until time is almost out, before a LONG LONG shot is taken. wtf was that. 

    .

    • KJ-B

      Thing is, you’re thinking logically, and issues have spiralled way outta control to pull the train back into the station…It’s a lost cause and it WILL end in a blow up… Don’t forget these professional athlete$, coache$, GM$ are the best of the best at what they do and there’s an awful amount of PRIDE involved–this is not gonna be solved that easy until a new Sheriff is in town in the GM/Coaches seat…Buckle up there it’s about to get rough!!!

    • OneLuv

       Agree with most of what you said. My keys are simple:

      1) Lowry needs to learn how to play with Bargnani by giving him some early elbow jumpers and getting him into rhythm or else its Primo time
      2) Casey has got to find a shooter to play consistent minutes with Jose, someone who can spread the floor so that the 2nd unit does not have to depend so much on the Jose/Amir pick and roll. I know he is trying with Ross but Ross is not quite ready for that role, although he has the potential.
      3) Play defense; they showed us that they know how last year.

    • KaioKev

      I agree with the point made that to win we need to stop playing like we have but we have and that includes ignoring the paint. We need more presence in the paint when it comes to defense and especially offence. The problem is scrawny guys like JVal, Ed Davis and AJohnson get out muscled easily by bigger (and not necessarily more talented) players. We need to draft, trade and acquire players with bigger frames and are more determined to score and defend in the paint. (no Aaron Gray doesn’t fit this description)

  • Destro

    ^
    Play 48 mins of defense,box people out,dont give up off rebounds,dont commit needless unforced turnovers….Im gonna say nothing about offense…if this team ever shows up defensively for 48 mins of dat ‘tensity we might stick within single digits in some of these losses…

  • mountio

    this game has been hard to watch. 13-14 first q almost done. If there is a team that can be had, its this depleted Portland team. They look bad .. 

    • KaioKev

      Whats up with Bargs? Is he finished for the night?

  • Destro

    Portland goes 0 for 20 sumn behind the arc and you still lose by 18

    how is that not a talent issue ?

  • Destro

    I dont like Hollinger but that article is etherous to BC and this organization….Absolutely amazing to me that BC goes on the radio today and tries to blame this teams D on a rookie…

    Especially when you have espn.com writers writing entire pieces shitting on bargnani telling the entire basketball world who the problem is….I loved hearing BC squirm during that interview,i said in the summer my greatest want would be for this blow up in his face and listen to him wiggle on a hook,i just didnt think it would happen 22 games in LOL…

    The sideshow has begun…

  • Jose

    I’ll never understand how someone can get paid 4 million dollars a year to “run” professional basketball club. It takes about 40 years for average family (making 100.000 a year) to make that kind of money. And yet, this guy has been around for 7 years (in which he made enough for his grand-kinds to live comfortably) without achieving anything at all. Even worse, franchise is in worse shape than when he “took over” 7 years ago.

    Mind boggling stuff.