Following a close call in New Orleans where the Raptors blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead only to win in overtime, Toronto will look to make it seven of their last eight in Orlando tonight. The game goes at 7 p.m. on TSN, assuming no lockout news breaks, in which case it will probably be bumped to Teletoon or something.

The Magic come in at 12-17 to the Raptors’ 10-20, but the Raptors have two victories over the Magic so far, including one from last Friday. That was a game that almost got away late, so with the home court flipped we could be in for another exciting contest.

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: Toronto 103.6 (17th), Orlando 100.7 (29th)
D-Rating: Orlando 102.7 (9th), Toronto 108.4 (27th)
Pace: Orlando 92.0 (13th), Toronto 90.6 (23rd)
Strength: Toronto TO% (3rd), Orlando D-Reb (4th)
Weakness: Toronto Fouling (30th), Orlando TO% (29th)

Positional Breakdown
Point Guard Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry v. Jameer Nelson and E’Twaun Moores
Edge: Raptors
Kyle Lowry looked excellent at both ends of the floor in his return last night, showing the hustle defense that was advertised this offseason and showing a willingness to make the extra pass and get teammates involved. As Jose Calderon tweeted after the game, it was “just one of those days” for him, and he should bounce back to his normal productive self. If Casey can find the right substitution pattern and these two can both accept slightly limited roles, the Raptors have a really nice duo at the point here. Nelson is decent but nobody to really game-plan for, though the guards should focus on going through screens instead of under them, as Nelson is more than willing to call his own number out of the pick and roll.

Wings DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Terrence Ross, Alan Anderson, Linas Kleiza and Landry Fields v. Arron Afflalo, J.J. Reddick, Moe Harkless, Hedo Turkoglu (questionable) and DeQuan Jones
Edge: Magic
Who knows which wings are going to get the run tonight in Casey’s odd, “play everybody a little bit here and there” wing rotation. I’d suggest he figure out which three or four he’s comfortable with and stick to it, because this is maddening. If it were up to me, I’d start Double-A and Double-D, use Ross as the first wing off the bench, and then let Fields try and get reacquainted with the team as the fourth wing. Pietrus and Kleiza are known commodities and don’t have the upside of the other wings. Regardless of who plays or how well, Afflalo and Reddick are both great and give the Magic their best chance to win. Afflalo was left to score at will last Friday and both he and Reddick showed a willingness and ability to move the ball. They’re both tough checks, so hopefully DeRozan isn’t too exhausted from playing 50 minutes to defend actively.

Bigs Ed Davis, Aaron Gray and Amir Johnson v. Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, Josh McRoberts and Gustavo Ayon
Edge: Wash
It’s pretty bad when the Raptors can manage a wash without Bargnani and Valanciunas, but without Glen Davis the Magic are pretty thin in the front fourt. I’d expect to see both teams go small relatively often, with Kleiza or Anderson seeing time at the four against Afflalo or Turkoglu (if he plays). As it is, Vucevic killed the Raptors last Friday and has been a double-double machine, so he’ll really put Davis and Johnson to work and force them to be active on the defensive glass. There’s not really a place for Gray here excepting guarding Ayon, who looks just like Alvarez from Sons of Anarchy. Offensively, Davis can’t keep missing bunnies like he did last night, while Johnson needs to bring that same intensity for a second night, something he’s struggled with pretty much forever (note: this may be anecdotal but it sure feels like Amir doesn’t play well on back-to-backs).

The Picks
Vegas: Magic -3.5
Hollinger Ratings: Magic -4
Blake: Raptors by 5

I don’t believe in “having a team’s number” but the Raptors have two impressive wins against the Magic that have put some clear advantages on display. Kyle Lowry also didn’t play in either of those games, and he should be able to further exploit a thin Magic back-court. Down low, the Raptors have to be thankful to run into the Magic when they’re so thin, and Big Baby being out is a huge boost for the Raptors. If Toronto can get the Magic to play small, which we saw a lot of last Friday, it can help hide that thin front-court and let three wing players (NOT two point guards) get run. Afflalo and Reddick are the keys to focus in on defensively, but Reddick also gives up a lot on the other end.

Attack Nelson, hit the defensive glass hard, come home with seven wins in the last eight, and get ready for a six-game home stand with four or five winnable games on tap.

Follow Blake on Twitter.

  • mike, prague

    Lets hope for a W and that Hedo isn’t in his best shape returning from his injury.

    • PBJake

      Doesn’t matter if he’s returning from an injury, Hedo not being in best shape is pretty much a given.

      • Matt52

         “Yes, Coach.”


        “Yes, Coach.”


        “Yes, Coach.”


  • PBJake

    “Afflalo and Reddick are the keys on defense, but Reddick also gives up a lot on the other end.”
    Might want to fix this sentence.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Thank you sir.

  • Gregast

    Good game to give Fields a chance to defend their wings – keep DDR’s minutes to below 40. Love to see TRoss and Landry Fields on the floor together against Afflalo and Reddick.

    • Pesterm1

       No way! Ross did a fantastic job on Reddick last game. He totally shut him down.

      • Pesterm1

         oops, i guess i should have kept reading lol

  • FAQ

    BIG surprise tonight… believe it.

    • redyraptor

      Casey needs to start L. Fields. Hopefully get some decent defense on Reddick and Affalo. Pietrus is just too slow for these guys. DD and L. Fields should start. Let AA come off the bench.

    • FAQ

      SEE??!!!! I’m 100% right 50% of the time ….LOL

  • Ppellico

    OK…can anybody tell me why up by double digits we had to go to overtime?
    Against NO?
    So enough of the +/- and great plays by the Amirs and such.
    The mear fact that happened should point out a bit of reality.
    But the Gray bashing continues.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Can’t hang it all on Amir, just like you can’t hang the bad start on only Gray. Also, Greivis and Anderson did the damage along with Anthony Davis, not AD alone.

  • Marc

    I like how you emphasized the “thin” frontcourt without Big Baby Davis

  • mountio

    ORL is by far the worst team weve played this year (notwithstanding their record .. I cant believe they have that many wins..) – we should win this one pretty easily even on the B2B

  • ckh26

    With 3 games over 4 nights we should get to see more of Fields tonight. If the coverage on the wings works out to be Fields and Anderson on Affalo thats a lot for Affalo to choke down all night as he battles for points on offense. 

    I like the options that Ross and DeRozan give against Reddick (although improving Reddick is also a bit of a matador on the defensive end of the floor. If we can get a sustained effort from both Calderon and Lowry the odds of coming away with a win are better than 50%.