Think tonight’s game means a little something extra to Rudy Gay? How could it not? Just three weeks ago, the Grizzlies decided they were better off without him and shipped him to Toronto, receiving Ed Davis and Tayshaun Prince in the deal.

Since then, both teams have been hot, Memphis at 5-2 and the Raptors at 6-2, and the teams come in with four and five-game winning streaks, respectively.

While Rudy Gay has been the don mega for the Raptors and is the new “closer” in town, Boss Davis has hardly played for the Grizz, while Prince has been the complementary piece you would expect. Before we get into the breakdown, let’s have a look at how the trade has worked out for both sides.
raps grizz before after
The Grizzlies are scoring a bit more and their defense has slipped, but overall they’ve been at the same level of effectiveness. This isn’t really surprising in a seven-game sample, though I was a little surprised at the defensive result.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, though, as the Raptors’ defense has improved significantly with Gay. Once again the small-sample and strength-of-schedule caveats apply, but Gay has had a neutral impact on the team offensively but a huge impact defensively.

Let’s take a closer look at how Gay has played since coming to Toronto. I’ve also shown Kylw Lowry and DeMar DeRozan here, as well, since they are two players who were expected to be impacted by this trade a fair amount.
raps grizz player compOther than the game-winning shots, Gay isn’t playing any better offensively. He has, however, been a nice defensive addition, checking the best opposing wing and allowing the Raptors to play smaller when it suits them.

Gay has also had a strong positive impact on DeRozan, it seems. To the eye, DeRozan has appeared to have more space to operate, drawing the lesser of the opponent’s wing defenders and playing with greater confidence. For Lowry, the starting role hasn’t been very kind to him, but his defense has been noticeably better. This is perhaps due to the mental side, with Lowry now less concerned with scoring and/or dialed in with his BFF in tow and the starting gig his.

We can’t definitively say, “hey, Gay has made the Raptors better,” but it sure looks that way so far.

As for our pal Ed Davis, he’s struggled to get run under Lionel Hollins. He may just need to build up his new coach’s confidence in him, as he played 22 minutes last night, nearly half of what he had played in the previous seven games. He had 14-and-4 with four blocks, and hopefully that showing gets him into Hollins’ plans more significantly.

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: Toronto 106.6 (11th), Memphis 104.5 (17th)
D-Rating: Memphis 100.4 (2nd), Toronto 107.8 (24th)
Pace: Toronto 89.9 (25th), Memphis 89.2 (28th)
Strength: Memphis O-Reb (1st), Toronto Ball Control (2nd)
Weakness: Toronto Fouling (30th), Memphis Opponent Fast Break (24th)

Let’s be honest. The Raptors are going to be in tough in this one, even with the hot streak and new additions. Lowry could and perhaps should outplay Conley, while the Raptors also have a serious advantage in wing scoring. The issue comes in the post, where Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are more or less unguardable on the best of days. Forget that the duo averages 29-19-5 combined, and instead consider that they’ll be banging against Amir Johnson (somewhat foul-prone), Jonas Valanciunas (inexperienced), Aaron Gray (big but not overly talented) and Andrea Bargnani (not engaged). Gasol and Randolph, backed up by Darrell Arthur and Davis, should really be able to go to work on the Raptors down low, an advantage that could be tough to overcome.

The Picks
Vegas: Raptors -1
Hollinger: Pick-‘em
Blake: Grizzlies by 5.

I’m a bit surprised at the line, but I guess the power ratings back it up. Both teams travelled, but the Raptors are at home. Both teams are hot, but Memphis is winning less decisively. Both teams have a significant advantage in one area (Toronto at the wing, Memphis in the post). You can make a case for it being a toss-up.

Unfortunately, I’m going to back the Grizz. For one, I thought the Raptors were lucky Washington no-showed last night, and I was wholly unimpressed with the team’s effort except for a few players. In addition, Rudy Gay wanting to stick it to his old team could go one of two ways – a classic “F You Game,” or a situation where he over-shoots trying to have that kind of game. If Rudy can corral the energy for a semi-efficient 25 points or so, and Lowry can outplay Bayless, the Raptors have a chance. Otherwise, I don’t see them being able to make up the ground Memphis will gain with their bigs.

The game goes at 7 p.m. on Sportsnet.

  • FAQ

    With great confidence and alacrity, I truly believe the TRaps will beat the crap out of the Grizzlies… just watch!

    • Roarque

      Man I sure do hope you’re right. There’s a lot of bragging rights on the line with a lot of hurt feelings as motivation. I see ED playing big minutes in TO.

      • BoshRawr

        Ha! I’d love to see Ed stick it to the raps, but where are these big minutes you forsee coming from? Maybe play some minutes at the three alongside Z-Bo and Marc? He’s only touched double digit minutes twice since coming over from toronto, so unless you’re predicting a blowout for the Grizz, his ass stays glued to the bench for the most part like my main man T-Ross :(

        • Guest

          I bet Ed gets big minutes this game.

    • What the

      is this really FAQ?

      • FAQ

        (shhhh… i’ve stuck my neck out a kilometer on this one …;)

  • ad

    Im with you that the griz have the edge. Also, dont discount the defense allen can play on derozan. Allen might not score much but he is a top wing defender in the league. To me, this game will be interesting to watch how derozan responds as he usually curls up in a little ball when matched up with an elite wing defender. Also, the two former raptors vs. two former grizzlies (Bayless and Davis vs. Lowry and Gay). Going to the game. Should be fun.

    • Lucas

      While I generally agree on DD, I checked for our game against Memphis earlier this year, and he had a very efficient 16 points with 4 rebounds. That surprised me.

      I’m curious who will be defending whom, but given the size matchups and who has been more efficient recently (DD over Gay), I find it hard to imagine Allen would be on Gay and Prince would be on DD. Unless Allen was great at completely shutting down Gay in practice, which I doubt.

      Either way, I think we need Lowry to at least match Conley, and for our wings to have a big (and overall efficient) night for us to have a shot at this game. Sadly, Memphis blowing out Detroit last night means their starters actually got more rest than ours. But we have been tenacious on back-to-back sets this year, so I hope to see that trend continue.

    • j bean

      Rudy said DeMar is the best 2 he’s ever played with and that didn’t sit well with Allen. Got a feeling DD goes all out to prove him right. In the same way Allen will have a point to prove. 

  • robertparrish00

    Can we trade Bargs for ED?

    • Roarque

      They’re going head to head tonight – watch for it.

    • Guest

      Bargs for Ed would be sick!

  • tmk

    I’m siding with Gay overshooting. Against the Wizards we kept force feeding him the ball even though he was clanking shots left and right (minus that one hot streak he had) or turning it over. All this while DD was actually being efficient and scoring almost everytime he touched the ball. Yet Gay kept trying to force the issue and everytime he touched the ball you knew it wasn’t leaving his hands. I think he’s trying too hard to be ‘the’ guy and with this game he’ll be even more motivated to throw shots up.

    Nonetheless, it should be a fun game. I can’t see us pulling it out, though it would be awesome if Rudy drops 40 or something and hits a gamewinner.

    • Roarque

      Rudy was shooting on instructions from Casey who knew that RG needed to establish his shot or the Bullets would change their defensive scheme to focus on DDR.

      • tmk

        I don’t know if you read that from a post-game interview or something, or you just concluded it on your own, but both ways that’s an interesting strategy/possibility. Though why not let the focus switch to DD, that way your best player, Gay, can more easily score and and take over the game?

    • Jimi

      I was sick of Gay overshooting, until this afternoon, when it occurred to me…

      Even when he’s missing those shots, his man is spending a lot of energy guarding him. He’s tough to cover. So even on his off nights, he’s going to be taking the man guarding him out of his offense. I’d never thought about this much before, and I’ve always been against volume/low efficiency shooters, but now I’m thinking that to correctly assess their impact, we need to account for the pressure that they put on defences, regardless of whether or not the shots are going in. 

      • j bean

        Kobe for his career is shooting exactly the same percentage as Gay, 45 percent. From downtown Rudy is 34 to Kobe’s 33 percent.

        • Jimi

          Point being?

          • Jimi

            Also, don’t mention Gay alongside Kobe. 

            • j bean

              u are the one who says you’ve always been against high volume/low efficiency shooters talking about Rudy.  Now you say don’t point out that Gay and Kobe have almost the exact same shooting efficiency.  That is what you’re talking about isn’t it? We aren’t talking about a comparison of careers.

          • j bean

            You don’t have to be a lights out shooter to have a great career.

  • Kingfish0820

    The only thing we miss about Gay are his missed shots!  Grizz by 8 and I don’t think it will be that close, just as the Piston game last night wasn’t as close as the score indicated.  With Rudy’s inability to dribble more than 3 times, I suspect whoever is guarding him will have 2-3 steals just from that.  It will be a fun game to watch!

  • Guest

    Quote me on this.  Rudy is going to go off for 36 pts on something like 14 of 21.  

    • Lucas

      I’d love to quote you on that, “Guest.”

      I think if he has a huge game, I could see him go for about 30 pts on 13 of 25 shooting. Any better than that is wishful thinking right now, until he’s truly in a groove and acclimated to his teammates (and they with him).

      Of course, I’d LOVE to be wrong here. And if he matches your stat-line, we win this game. Period.

  • BCBargnaniFieldsCaseyGots2Go!

    I want to watch the  DD-Allen matchup to see if Allen tries to shut down DD for Gay’s comments.

    Raptors need to control the paint or it could be a long nite.

    Tony Wroten comes to town- will he get any burn?


    • Guest

      Same.. the DD-Allen matchup should be good.  I’m curious to see if DD is good enough to get past Allen consistently.

  • Guest

    Our bigs are going to need to play their best.  Should be a good test on our interior D… a chance for Amir & JV to level up and Bargs to shut everyone up.

  • Hound

    Very interesting to see if Ed Davis plays more than 6-8 minutes. If he does, that time more than likely will be against Bargs. Me thinks that we all will see why he played behind Bargs while here in TO. I suspect Bargs has been playing quite a bit better than ED in practice, training camps etc. when they are matched up in scrimmages.

    Many storylines and I am excited to see what happens. I said in the quick reaction portion that I will shit myself if they win this game, so I am putting on a diaper and hoping for the best.

  • What the

    RAPTORS WIN!!! RAPTORS  WIN!!!  Don’t worry cause RUDY don’t fear boy RUDY don’t  fear  this is our house  

  • FAQ

    Rudolph will pull our sleigh tonight …. supersonic..!!!!

    • FAQ

      WTF ………..!

  • Peter G

    Raptors got lucky with those 5 straight wins…Memphis will put them back in their place.

  • tyson

    … this game’s not looking too good right now. Everyone looks tired and indifferent unfortunately :S

  • cdub

    wow brutal half for the entire team.  amir was the only doing anything and he barely played due to foul trouble. 

  • Sarcastic Fan

    Alan Anderson for MVP!!!

  • Darien

    Rudy Gay 1v5 TO, TO, TO gg

  • Destro

    Way to stick it to your ex team Rudy !


    • cdub

      its like he just played right into memphis gameplan….the TO’s at the end were forced…he really needs to keep his head up when driving and pass once in a while he will be ok..hopefully a coach can actually show him a video or something….but the whole team blew tonight except for AA and Amir….DeROzans famous disapearing act when guarded by a good defender….Andrea called it in yet again before the game started ..Lowry wasn’t good either.  and they still could have won this game against one of the better teams in the league.