There is a ton of analysis that goes into basketball, all of the stats and matchups, but for the Raptors tonight, it is pretty simple. If they come out and shoot below 41% again (like the 37% they had the other night), they are going to get spanked. It doesn’t matter what kind of defense you play or what kind of strategy you have drawn up for the game, if you come out and shoot 37%, you’re pretty much not going to beat anybody, let alone a team looking for its sixth win in a row.
The power matchup of the night is going to be Chris Bosh against David West. I don’t think West gets enough credit for the impact he can have on a game and his play of late may help his name come up a bit more when people are talking about skilled players in the league. He’s a decent scorer, but I like his energy on the boards and his ability to help turn the play from one end of the court to the other, helping with the transition by getting down the court and being shot ready. When you have his energy and Tyson Chandler’s natural ability on the boards, the Raps could be in tough looking for second chance points.
So that leads to the shooting efficiency again. The Raps have been shooting poorly lately, so it will be of vital importance to get good looks and have their feet set when they are taking shots tonight. Guys like Hump CANNOT be taking turnaround jumpers and it wasn’t hard to see Bosh’s shooting woes coming since he has once again decided to limit himself to the outside jumper again. Sure, he has still been able to generate his double-doubles, but he needs to remember that inside game, which will allow him some better looks when he decides to pull up. The Raptors are going to have to get some bodies on bodies inside and get some offensive rebounds to win this game.
You would think that a team with a sniper like Peja Stojakovic would score more, but the Hornets have about the same offensive prowess of the Raptors. Chris Paul gets his teammates a lot of good looks and Tyson Chanlder made 62.5% of his two-point field goal attemps last season, so I find their scoring average (96.73) a little under where I think they should be (probably around 100). As good as Paul is, I think that sometimes he tends to eat a little too much of the clock and this may put some added pressure on his teammates to make shots as the clock ticks down. They need to move the ball a little quicker around the perimeter and Paul needs to attack faster, gettting that penetration and kicking out.
The Raptors are going to have to get out on the perimeter and contest shots, because the last thing you want is either Peja or MoPete getting hot, because we all know what can happen when those two guys get in a groove. That being said, we have all also seen what happens when those guys start a game on the wrong note. If the Raptors can contest some early shots and get some defensive rebounds, they should be okay. The toughest part will be those rebounds, because Chandler is a menace inside. The great thing about him is that even the balls he can’t grab, he still manages to tip out to his teammates.
Okay, so I haven’t really commented on MoPete yet. Any RF reader knows that he is my all-time favourite Raptor, a guy who could lock down on another team’s big scorer when you needed a defensive stop. I was really sad to see him go. Mo didn’t come up with a big season when he needed to and pretty much sealed his own fate, but he was a guy who always played hard and never took a shot at management or his coach even when his minutes went down. His numbers this season are a bit under his career averages, but the guy will always be able to play D and if I’m a coach, I’ll take that, especially when it looks like the Hornets are heading to the playoffs and will be one of the top seeds. Big D will win you playoff games.
Well, enjoy the game. I’m so sad I can’t call these guys the NOOCH anymore (New Orleans Oklahoma City Hornets). Now it’s just the NOH. Not the same.