Gameday: Raptors vs Magic – Jan. 1/12

Raptors in Orlando for the 1st game of a back-to-back

Things wont be getting any easier; Magic today, Knicks tomorrow, tough match-ups all around. The Raptors are maintaining a consistent level of effort defensively, but their offense is killing them. I’m sure Casey’s on the job…

Unlike the Nuggets, who had the hooplah of the Carmelo Anthony fiasco bleed onto their play on-court, the Magic have started the season 3-1, with their only loss coming against the Thunder; no shame there.

I had a chance to speak to Eddy Rivera from Magic Basketball about the Magic:

True or False: the Magic, as currently constructed, are championship contenders.

False. The Orlando Magic desperately need a dynamic shot creator on the perimeter and the bench is rather thin. Likewise, the Magic just don’t have the star power that teams like the Miami Heat have. That being said, with Ryan Anderson emerging at power forward, Hedo Turkoglu looking like his 2009 self, Orlando may have new life but it’s still early.

I’m wondering what the strategy is for Dwight Howard. Surely, if Smith wants to keep him, resigning Jason Richardson and trading for his BFF Glen Davis wont cut it, right? Also, was the Glen Davis move as stupid as I think it was?

The strategy behind re-signing Richardson and trading for Davis is to allow the Magic to compete in the event Howard leaves. It’s not smart but with an 85-year old owner that’s gunning for a championship one more time, it’s understandable. And yes, the Bass-for-Davis swap was a bad one. Each player has their flaws but Bass is better.

Will Dwight Howard be a Magic come the end of the season?

Maybe. I still think Howard will ultimately be traded to the Lakers because they offer the best “win now” assets. However, I don’t think it’s set in stone that Howard is gone. Deep down inside, Howard genuinely would like to stay with Orlando but the franchise needs to give him a reason to do so.


Point Guard
With Bayless a game-time decision, Calderon will have to pick it up a notch. It will be tough to play him larger minutes than normal, what with the Knicks tomorrow, but Anthony Carter isn’t much of an insurance policy. The Magic are deep at the PG, not great, but deep. Jameer Nelson is also listed as day-to-day with a neck injury. Unfortunately, even if the Raptors utterly exploit this position, it still will be an uphill battle.
Edge: Raptors

Shooting Guard
If Barbosa has to play some backup PG to Calderon, there will be a lot of pressure on DeMar to hold it down against a very deep SG lineup for the Magic. An area where the Raptors still need some work is perimeter defensive rotations (closing out on open shooters behind the arc). Between Jason Richardson and JJ Redick, any extra open space they have will result in a trey.
Edge: Magic

Small Forward
It’s depressing how weak we are at the 3-spot; lets just say Turkoglu is producing more than all our 3s combined, yea.
Edge: Magic

Power Forward
That Vince Carter trade they made a couple seasons ago was a phenomenal haul for the Magic. Ryan Anderson, seemingly, was thrown in as a salary matching after-thought (I’m sure Otis Smith knew what he was doing ). Historically, the Raptors had success against the Magic because Bargnani’s production would counter Howards. Now with Ryan Anderson putting up 19.5pts 6.5rebs 43%3P in addition to whatever Howard puts up in the middle.
Edge: Even

Howard > Johnson + Magloire + Alabi. A success today, in my books, will be if Magloire comes down with a rebound, elbows up, and catches Glen Davis in the mouth.
Edge: Magic

The Line

The gamblers have the Magic as 11.5 points favourites with an over/under of 190. I’m not hopeful for today; actually, I’m never hopeful against the Magic yet the Raptors always find a way to surprise. The Magic have always had trouble defending Bargnani in the past. It’s not going to be a pretty one, I’d bet the line.

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