Preview - Raptors vs. Wizards - 7:00, Verizon Center

So, what to expect from tonight? Do we see a Raptor recline, where the team comes off the high from the win against the Heat or do we see a Raptor team that has added confidence, realizing that when they pull together as a team, they can play good D? Which one are we going to see?

Well, it’s no secret that the Raptors are hurting right now and are relying on guys like Gatorade Graham to supply D in a rotation off the bench, so look for the Wiz to come out firing early and often, led by Agent 0 himself. But let’s also remember, Arenas has trouble playing against quick guards, so TJ may surprise him a bit on D and if Jose’s ankle continues to get better, it could be a tough night for Arenas. It’s not so much that Arenas has problems playing against guards who play good D (most guys do), but it seems that the faster the guy is on D, the more able the defender is to see screens coming or cut off lanes, the tougher Agent 0 finds it to get going. That being said, watch for Arenas to hoist a bunch of threes, looking to avoid getting into a footrace with TJ. If the Raptors can keep him outside and shooting and actually pick up a few rebounds, then remove the gas, fold the legs, put away the Hibachi.

While there are definite guys the Raptors have to watch out for tonight (Arenas, Jamison, Butler), they have to make sure they don’t sleep on DeShawn Stevenson. The guy has been playing well of late and dropped 28 on the Sixers the other night. The Wizards have a lot of weapons, so with the Raps a little short on D, they will have to have another team game where everybody plays a role. But let’s also not fall into the trap of believing that Garbo was the only guy on the team who played D. Given, he is the Raptors best defender, but he is still only one player. Even when he was in the lineup, the Raptors had many nights of complete defensive breakdowns. As terrible as Garbo’s injury was and as much as it will hurt the Raptors, it will also serve its good, as the team will be forced to focus each night on playing team D and not letting teams like the Wiz get hot. Because if they get hot early, look out.

Once again, as it is every night, the boards will be an important factor. The Wiz have two beasts on the boards, Jamison and Butler. BUTLER? Yeah, Butler. The guy can actually rebound. He is one of those guys who understands about positioning, because he isn’t a big guy (6’7”, 228), but he pulls down almost 8 boards a game. Not too shabby. He’s coming off a knee injury (his game against Philly the other night was his first back), but he looked fully healed in that one. Let’s see some bodies knocking around in there, get him off his game.

X-Factors for tonight (sorry Leo, we are taking this over now): Wizards - Antonio Daniels, Raptors - Rasho

3 Comments

TTFD  on March 30th, 2007

in hommage to Leo I am picking Bosh as the Rap’s x-factor

ZoneD  on March 30th, 2007

good preview - have you heard anything about the flu making the rounds in the Association? Last night the Pistons were missing Rip and ?. Also Smitch was under the weather during the game against the Heat.

Jay  on March 30th, 2007

Hadn’t heard anything about the flu making the rounds, but I would figure that with all of the traveling, the late nights, the exhaustion, it would be pretty easy to get yourself a bit worn down where you could catch something.

Sam apparently had some food poisoning the other night, wasn’t the flu.