My life just got 30% better with the season starting today. The Raptors host the Cavs, who just came off a 95-89 loss at the hands of the C**tics last night. Seeing Anthony Parker in a Cavs uniform was unsettling for me. For those of you who didn’t want the guy back, just remember, he is starting for a team that has their designs on a championship, dude can play.
A few things happened in that game that has me feeling good about the Raptors chances of winning tonight:
- First of all, the Cavs look lost offensively with LeBron on the bench. They have no one to carry the load, no one! LeBron only sat 3 minutes, dude played 45 minutes on opening night, this shouldn’t bode too well for them.
- Shaq out gunning on all cylinders, but that didn’t last too long. By the 3rd quarter, he looked old and slow(er then usual).
- No Delonte West
Calderon vs Williams
We finally have an injury free Calderon, who looked better as the pre-season went on. With some of creating burden being passed on to Hedo, Calderon should be good to spot up for some open 3s. Williams isn’t much of a defender, and considering he played 35 minutes last night, he wont be playing as aggressively as Mike Brown would want him too. He will be attacking Calderon on offense, but the two should cancel each other out.
The Edge: Even
Parker vs DeRozan
Parker is one of my favourite Raptors of all time. It was good to see him play well along side LeBron last night, but he played 40 minutes. He didn’t shoot great from the field (3-9), but he hit some timely 3s and some solid defense on Ray Allen. He now has to chase DeRozan up and down the court on the second night of a back-to-back. DeRozan needs to attack him from the tip, and keep going at him. This could be a long night for Parker in his return to the ACC.
The Edge: Even*
Turkoglu vs LeBron
Doesn’t matter how good Turkoglu plays, LeBron is LeBron. In 45min last night, LeBron dropped 38pts 4rebs 8ast. You can’t beat that. You only hope that Turkoglu gives up more jumpers then drives. If he can keep him out of the lane, and force LeBron to shoot deep jumpers, I can live with whatever happens.
The Edge: LeBron
Bosh vs Varejao
We know how this will turn out, Bosh will win the overall match-up, but Varejao will win every single hustle play. The guy leads the league in ran down rebounds (errr, yea, he runs down rebounds more then anyone else). He isn’t a threat to score, but that doesn’t mean Bosh should ignore him. The guy is the consummate garbage man. It will be a long night for him though, Bosh looks good to start his max-year campaign tonight.
The Edge: Bosh
Bargnani vs Shaq
Shaq can’t cover Bargnani on defense, and Bargnani can’t cover Shaq either. This match-up comes down to who is going to grab more rebounds, and play better defense. Bargnani should have the advantage, as he will force Shaq out from the key on defense, opening up some space to maneuver. Should Shaq cover Bosh on defense, the same situation will happen as Bosh likes to play from 18ft in. Factor in Shaq played 30min last night, and looked worse as the game dragged on.
The Edge: Bargnani
With Delonte West not even wearing Sean John on the sidelines, the Cavs have a pretty bad bench. Amir Johnson will neutralize Ilgauskas, Jack will neutralize Boobie, Wright will own Moon. In fact, looking at the Cavs bench, I am hard-pressed to think how this is a championship calibre team, they need to get healthy quick!
The Edge: Raptors
The line is set at Cavs -5.5 with an over/under of 191.
This is a new feature we are running with this season, our boy Jeremy Visser from That’s What I’m Saying, Guy… will drop a simulation every game-day with complete boxscores and highlights. You can hit him up on twitter @jeremy_visser. We’ll be keeping track of them here.
LeBron James led the way for Cleveland in the NBA 2k10 opener, recording a triple-double (28 points, 13 boards and 16 assists) to lead the Cavs past the Raptors 117-98. Toronto hung tough, trailing by just six points entering the fourth quarter, before King James & co. put them away with a late run.
Andrea Bargnani led the Raptors with 20 points and nine rebounds. Chris Bosh, limited all night by foul trouble, finished with 19 in just 19 minutes. Hedo Turkoglu struggled in his debut with Toronto, finishing with 10 points of 4-of-14 shooting.
Aside from James, the Cavs got a strong performance from all-star Mo Williams, who scored 29 and added six assists. Shaquille O’Neal scored 19 in his second game as a Cav.
Keys to Winning
- Hit the glass – the Cavs have an active front court, and need to be containted
- Limit LeBron – easier said then done, but if we can limit his options, and make him beat us one-on-one on every possession, will get hard to carry the load
- Pick-n-Roll – I know I don’t have to say it, cause that’s all the Raptors do, but between Shaq and Ilgauskas, the PNR defense is wanting.
The Cavs will be tired, but pissed off. The Raptors don’t play defense like the C**tics, but if they can run the Cavs around, and not let up, it will be a long night for the LeBron et al. I called a Raptor win earlier in the summer, and unless LeBron drops 50, I like the Raptors to represent.
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