Archive for March, 2008

Raps vs. Bobcats Preview

After a home loss to the Hornets, the Raptors have the Bobcats up next, which should provide them with a good avenue for getting back into the win column. The Bobcats just haven’t been able to put things together, suffering from everything from injuries to bad execution on the court. You never know which team you are going to get on any night when the Cats come to town, but this is another game that the Raptors need to come out and take early. When you lose to a good team on your own court, you can take some of the good things away from the game, but you have to make sure that you take some of the bad out of it and use the next game to work on the rectifying the problem.

It was good to see Jose Calderon back in form against the Hornets, distributing the ball and running things like he usually does. If the Raptors are going to go with TJ starting, it will be important that they have that two pronged attack that worked so well in the past, one guy fast and flashy, the other slow and steady. The good thing for the Raptors is that when you play the Bobcats, you really don’t have to worry about having a specific attack, as long as it is one that is steady. The Cats are going to give you your 100 ppg if you want it and they are almost as bad of a rebounding team as the Raptors are, so the opportunities will present themselves for some second chance points. In the last 5 games, the Raptors have actually picked up their rebounding a bit, so if they are able to continue the trend, they may be able to push the game in their favour (for once) by controlling the boards.

If the Bobcats get down early, this should be an easy ride for the Raptors, but they key is, get them down early.

Enjoy the game.

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My Mo Story

As some of you may know, I used to work for the Raptors, I started in the catering department.

One of the first days on the job, I had to go set up and deliver the food to the dressing room.

I was super nervous pushing my little cart in there after the game. After struggling through the doors, almost dropping the pasta, I hung the immediate left to go set it up in front of the TV.

The first thing I heard was…”About fucking time, can ya hurry that up”, turning around I saw an, angry, sweaty and naked Kevin Willis, I was already feeling pretty small at the time…but the inevitable glance down made me even feel smaller.

Sweaty palms now, I meet the chef in the room and we begin to set everything up. While we are doing that some of the players, couldn’t wait two fucking minutes, and were climbing over me and moving stuff around, taking a plate of food, before it was even ready. The worst offenders…Oakley, Willis and Corliss.

At that point a young Morris Peterson spoke up and said, “Guys can we give the guy a chance here, back up and let him finish”. Let me tell ya I thought Oak, was going to kill him, stared at Mo, and Mo looked right back at him and said “Just let the guy do his job”.

I loved Mo, from that moment on, as I was making my way out of the room, cart full of garbage and stuff…and I was trying to reach for the door, a chafing dish fell and made the biggest noise…as the team were have their “rap up” meeting. There were laughs…and eye rolls, I wanted to die.

As I was trying to gather myself Mo ran over picked up the lid, grabbed the door for me, and shook my hand on the way out.

He simply said “Thank you, we appreciate it”, inside his hand when he shook mine…$100 bones.

I bought his jersey the next day, and as time went on, he was one of the only guys that took the time to learn my name, always said “Hello” when he passed me in the halls.

So for that reason, and more, Morris Peterson will receive a standing ovation from me on Sunday,

Just to say

“Thank you, I appreciated it”

This article courtesy of Benzo.

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Raps vs. Knicks Postgame

Okay, seriously, what is it about Jamal Crawford that the Raptors have trouble with? The guy just seems to come out and have career nights against the Raptors. It’s money in the bank. Death, taxes and getting lit up by Jamal Crawford. Anyway…

So the Raps did what they needed to do, taking this one from wire to wire, handily beating the Knicks, although they did let another big lead nearly disappear. There were a lot of good things in this game, but what you have to like is how Rasho is providing that steady presence in the middle. He might be the only player in the league who can quietly come out and score 18 points in 27 minutes. You never really notice how many points Rasho has poured into the basket until he is taken out of the game and one of the commentators let’s you know that Rasho is checking out with X number of points. It’s a strange phenomenon, but he manages to do it by essentially using the same play. He gets the ball down low, just outside the semi-circle and does that half jump shot half hook shot business that must have a patent pending on it. It’s tough to block, so if he’s on, he can start filling it up pretty quickly. If you don’t have somebody to deal with his size, he will expose you. It’s actually quite nice to watch. It is textbook basketball…well, maybe not as far as the actual shot goes, but the rest leading up to that, textbook.

Once again, another good game from TJ since returning to the starting lineup, but I really didn’t like how Jose looked tonight. 23 minutes, 1-5 from the floor and turned the ball over 3 times? That’s not the Jose we know. There might be an argument that while he has shown some class by moving to the bench, there is the chance that it will take its effect mentally. Maybe not, maybe he just had a bad game, but against the Knicks, that kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen.

Let’s take a quick look at TJ’s move back to the starting lineup. You can’t argue that he hasn’t looked like a completely different player. Just how much of a difference is there with TJ between starting and coming off the bench? Well, as a starter, TJ shoots almost 49% compared to almost 42% off the bench. His 3-point and free throw percentages are lower as a starter, which you could associate with fatigue. For Jose, his numbers as a starter or off the bench are pretty much the same. He shoots 53% as a starter, as opposed to 55% off the bench and 45% from 3 as a starter compared to 43% off the bench. If this whole thing isn’t going to blow up, we are going to need Jose not only prove that he is a class guy, but that he is going to be able to keep himself warm and game ready to come off the bench. It appears the Raptors finally have TJ working in control again, it would be a shame to lose Calderon in the mix.

If you’re the Knicks brass and you take a look at tonight’s game, you would think, well, if we can come out and look like this without the Fat Boys, Circus Act and “Star”bury, then why the hell are we paying those guys so much? To be honest, this game wasn’t ever really in doubt, other than the one point where the Knicks went on a bit of a run and managed to get the game back to 3 points, but the Knicks showed something by staying in there, fighting and not taking another loss lying down. David Lee didn’t have a great game shooting, but I’ll take a guy who will get up and down the court and will pick up a double-double via 15 points and 12 boards. Jared Jeffries has been putting in some solid work throughout the season and the Raptors may have to trade for Jamal Crawford just to stop him from scoring against them. The key for the Knicks is to admit that they have missed on a lot of their trades, blow things up and start again. There’s no shame in starting again, especially if it ends up with your team winning more.

Anyway, it’s good the Raptors did what they were supposed to do, that is a comforting thought, but there are still some important games coming up…like the return of MoPete.

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The Right Move and the Wrong Move

It wasn’t tough to see that the lineup changes the Raptors made against the Pistons had a definite effect on the game’s outcome. The Raptors were moving the ball well, they played effectively as a team and they were able to close out a game when it looked like they were going to hand another one away. There have been varying reports on whether Jose went to Sam and told him that he needed to go to the bench for the betterment of the team or whether he was asked to, but either way, by Jose heading back to the bench and not complaining about it, he showed the kind of class he has.

Frequent readers of RF know that I love the TJ/Jose combo on the floor at the same time. Of course, you can only really do it when the other team is going small, but it is something the Raptors should try to use to expose other teams. When the game was slipping away against the Pistons, we saw TJ getting the ball to Jose, for a rattle-down three that effectively sealed the game. We also saw some nice skip passes delivered by TJ, who was looking to create for others rather than himself. It almost looked like TJ had his conscience playing right next to him, whispering in his ear, “Hey buddy, I can have you replaced at any time, so watch yourself.”

But here’s what I hate about the move. It shows a weak backbone at the coaching and managment level. I like TJ. I like his game. Overall, I think he has more talent than Jose. But this season, Jose has earned that starting position. I know the whole routine about a guy losing his position when he’s out injured, but that’s too bad. Take a look back at Wally Pipp and then talk to me about a guy losing his position to injury. Sometimes, it works out for the better. By moving TJ back into the starting position, whether it came from Jose, from Sam or from BC, it shows that you can essentially be a crybaby for a month and then get what you want. Does it make the team better? Who knows? They looked pretty good against the Pistons, but that’s one game.

While it may look good for one game, it may be the start of some poor vibes in the locker room. This is how these things start. God forbid if the Raptors start to go down the wrong path again. Let’s say the Raptors go ahead and lose 6 straight with TJ as the starter. Watch out, because the daggers will be flying. To be truthful about the whole thing, being a starter in a sport like basketball could be the most meaningless of titles in all of sports. In basketball, they actually have an award for the guy who’s the best out of the guys who aren’t good enough to start, the Six Man Award. It shows that coming off the bench is an important role in the NBA. In the NHL, nobody knows who the hell the starting 5 are on most teams and you never hear anything about it, because 45 seconds later, the guys are on a line change. In baseball, being a starter is a big deal, because you are going to get more at-bats and see pitchers more often, which makes it easier to hit them, you’re also not walking in cold to suddenly face a dude throwing 98 mph. So not being a starter in baseball is a big deal. In the NFL, if you’re not starting, you’re not going to see a lot of the field, unless you are being used in special situations. So it’s a big deal to be a starter there too. Soccer? If you’re not a starter, there’s a pretty damn good chance you’re not going to play.

So really, in basketball, what gives? This whole “Who’s the Starter” thing is such a trumped up bunch of nonsense, that just gets fed into by everybody, from the media to the players to the management. It really doesn’t matter. It has turned into a cliche now, but it doesn’t matter who starts the game, it’s who’s closing the game out. When the game’s on the line, who do you want on the floor? So in the end, if the Raptors run better with TJ coming out for the first 8 minutes, then fine. He’s not going to cost them the game in those first 8 minutes. The important thing is that Sam remembers to keep Jose in the game, to get him a ton of minutes and to make sure that when the game is on the line, he is in the lineup.

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Raps vs. Knicks Preview

Well, it looks like Chris Bosh’s rant after the Denver game paid off, as the Raptors came out and actually looked like a team that wanted to finish a game for once. You can’t help but think that Bosh’s words had some effect, but you’d also be an idiot not to notice that the lineup changes made a big difference too (there’s another post devoted just to that topic…). So I’ll stay away from the lineup issue for now and focus a little more on Bosh and his importance to the Raptors.

It’s not so much that Bosh came out and said something, but as with most things in life, it’s all about timing. Bosh waited until he was back from injury, out there gutting it out, trying to pull one out for the Raps. He waited until they blew a huge lead and essentially stopped playing D in the second half. He didn’t call out anyone in particular, he didn’t get into too much detail, but he attacked where it hurts the most. He talked about having some heart, some balls, the ability to play tough and earn a win. That’s what leaders do. They deliver in the clutch and they pick their spots when it’s time to talk. Would this speech have had as much effect coming from anyone else on the team? No. Not even if it came from fan favourite Jose. Bosh is the undisputed leader and his timing was perfect.

So now that the Raps used Bosh’s words as motivation in beating Detroit, how does it all tie in to the Knicks? Well, take a look through that Knick lineup. Is there a single guy on that team who can stand up and make the same kind of speech Bosh did? Well, sure, any of them could make it, but would anybody listen? That’s the real question. The answer is no. They wouldn’t listen and they wouldn’t act either. The Knicks actually have some decent talent in their lineup (decent, not good), but they don’t have one guy on that team who anyone would call a leader. There have been some games that the Knicks were in where they have completely self-destructed. They have nobody to hold them together, nobody who can rally the troops. They can’t even look to their coach, because he’s even more lost than the players. They can’t look to their GM, because he has some sort of misguided attachment to the coach. There’s no leadership there whatsoever.

As with all big wins, they’re only as good as the game that follows, especially when that game features the Knicks. If you come up with a great game, feature some lineup changes, feed of your leader’s words, make selfless acts that benefit the team and then follow it up with a stinker against the Knicks, it’s like taking 4 steps backwards. This game needs to be of the ass-kicking variety, it’s another one of those cliched statement games. Time to make a statement, that follows up on three previous statements: Bosh’s words, Jose’s team attitude and the performance against the Pistons.

Enjoy the game.

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Raps vs. Cavs Preview

Let’s throw the “game” against the Heat out the window, as far as I’m concerned, this is still a Raptors team that has lost 5 in a row. Coming into a game against the Cavs, I’m still not sure if the game against the Heat was a good thing for them or not. On one hand, it allowed them to get Bosh back into the lineup, without putting too much pressure on him, but on the other hand, it may give them a false sense of security that everything is back on the right path. Sam Mitchell was talking about how good Andrea and Jamario looked against the Heat, but I mean, really, it’s the Heat. They probably would have faced a greater challenge lining up against Eastern Commerce. Those are the kinds of games where you expect guys to have good nights…if not, then you are in worse trouble than you think.

Some have talked about this game as a playoff preview, which it could be, but the playoffs are still quite a bit away and I’m not sure if the Cavs have completely sorted themselves since the big trade that brought Big Ben over. In my opinion, I think they got a little slower, but having Ben Wallace in a new scenario may help to rejuvenate what has been a disappointing season for him. As Bosh mentioned, the Raptors’ bigs are quicker than the Cavs’ bigs, but what he hasn’t factored in is that the Cavs’ bigs may be tougher than the Raptors’ bigs and the Cavs also have some dude named LeBron who will break the Cavs franchise scoring record tonight. If the Raptors are able to use that speed to generate some early fouls against the Cavs’ bigs, then we are talking. If they can manage to get Big Z to sit a few more minutes and get Big Ben to start slapping at the ball as he has tended to do in the past couple of years as he has become slower, then they might be able to utilize that speed to an even greater extent. This may be a game where instead of looking to Bosh in the high-low, you see what you can develop up top off of some dribble penetration. That will require Jose to attack and trust in his ability to finish or dish last minute. That also means that when TJ sees the floor, you can probably count on some more shenanigans, because if Sam is talking about anything related to dribble penetration, for TJ, that goes in one ear as “TJ TIME”, rattles around as “Score, score score” and then goes out the other ear to resounding cheers (in his mind). I’m still pulling for the guy, I like his game when he’s thinking, but this is the kind of game where he can expose the weaknesses of the Cavs’ D…if he doesn’t force the issue. Otherwise, LeBron will capitalize on every turnover.

Enjoy the game.

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Raps vs. Heat Preview

Why is it that whenever the Raptors need to get back in the win category, the Miami Heat come up on the schedule? If the Raptors are not able to pull this game out and pull it out decisively, then they have some serious issues going on. Bosh is supposed to be back for this game and it is probably the best game to bring him back as he will not be challenged on either end of the court. This should be just a get up and down the court game for him, giving him a chance to get his legs back.

When you look at the Heat lineup, it’s like looking at a collection of high school rejects (who are millionaires). Even Ricky Davis doesn’t do the “head bop” any more, the dude just wants to get on and off the court and collect his cheque. Shawn Marion must be wondering what the hell he was thinking when he pretty much put himself in a position to be traded, D-Wade has shut it down (again), Shaq is gone, you have Jason Williams running your point and coming off the bench are a bunch of dudes you have never heard of. They could be taking guys from off the street or from Coppin State and putting them in the lineup and trust me, nobody would know. It’s that bad there right now. Think if you are a Miami sports fan right now. The Heat suck, the Dolphins suck, the Marlins have more fire sales than the good people of Cheektowaga, the Panthers are barely better than the Leafs…it’s just not good.

So what’s the game plan for the Raptors? Well, it shouldn’t be anything complex. They could essentially run two plays all game, one of them being some variation of a high-low game with Bosh, getting him a bunch of touches down low (testing the knee) and then whatever the hell else they want to run. More importantly, the Raptors have to show that they are able to play some D again. Let’s remember, the Raptors have actually been playing well defensively this year, they just haven’t been good on the boards, which has led to a lot of second chance points, which have been killing them. The past five games have been a poor reflection of how the Raptors have actually played defensively this season.

Well, enjoy the game and if the Raptors lose this one, God help us all.

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West Coast Review, TJ and In-Laws

Well, it has been a little while since I have posted something, had the mother-in-law in town, so my access to the lair (the basement) was limited. No idea why it is necessary to check the weather in places where you aren’t, but oh well. Oh yeah, guys, always make sure you have beer in the fridge. The one time in my life I didn’t have beer in the fridge and I was DYING for a beer. WTF?

Anyway, the west coast swing ended up pretty much how most of us had it, with the Raps having their asses handed to them. Even the game that we thought they SHOULD win, but were probably going to take too lightly and end up with a loss ended up how we thought it would. I’m not completely sure if they took the Kings too lightly, but they sure didn’t look like a team that was ready to play and I think they really just didn’t have any energy in their legs. They were not concentrating, turning the ball over, not getting back down the court on D, not looking upcourt for guys who were actually making the break in transition, it was just a combination of almost every possible error you could imagine…in almost every game.

There has been plenty of talk about TJ lately and rightly so. His play has been terrible, his attitude has not been very good (from what we know…I’m always hesitant to talk about a guy’s attitude since a lot goes on behind the scenes) and he just looks lost out there. Things pretty much came to a head with his explosion and subsequent expulsion from last night’s game. I kind of see where he was coming from last night, but make no mistake, TJ getting tossed had about 50% to do with the things that happened in the five minutes before that last whistle and 50% to do with the past three weeks. The weight of not being a starter and not performing well in the backup role has clearly had its effect on TJ and it all just came out in that one moment. That was a picture of a man falling apart, trying to find his spot in a team.

The thing about TJ now is that he has clearly become a distraction. It’s bad enough when you are losing (and losing ugly), but it makes it that much worse when you are losing and then you have to deal with a headcase. Here’s the thing with TJ right now. Typically, when TJ is having problems, it is because he is holding onto the ball too long and forcing shots. Right now, TJ is doing both of those things, but he is also forcing passes and hesitating before making moves, completely throwing off his abilities. He just doesn’t have his head on right because he is thinking too much. To take a line out of Bull Durham, “Don’t think, you’ll only hurt the ball club.” If the Raptors could somehow just get TJ to not think about being a backup, to not worry about trying to score, to not worry about making the perfect pass, it would be a bloody miracle. But realistically, they just have to get him settled right now. I mean on more of a sense of being settled outside of basketball. This might be a time where you still have some time before the playoffs, you might want to say, TJ, take a few days off, relax, go spend some time with your family back in Texas, come back refreshed. God knows it won’t happen, but I really think at this point, in order to calm down TJ the baller, you need to calm down TJ the man.

But let’s also be fair to TJ, he hasn’t been the reason the Raptors have been losing. They have looked bad in just about every possible way that a team can. You can’t give up 70+ points in a half and expect to win. I mean, damn, some teams don’t even score 70+ in a game. The Raptors can talk all they want about Bosh not being there, but let’s remember that Bosh isn’t a great defender. Sure, having him on the offensive side effects the defensive side as he is able to wear down defenses and his length doesn’t hurt on D, but it would be irresponsible to suggest that Bosh being out is the reason the Raptors are losing.

Let’s take a look at the past 5 games. The Raptors aren’t having that much of a problem scoring, they are almost at 100 points per game (although let’s also take into consideration that they are facing some second stringers once things get out of control), but they are giving up almost 115 points per game and only Seattle is worse than that in the past 5. The Raptors have also been letting teams shoot almost 54% from the field, which is not a formula for success. They still can’t rebound the ball, so while it sucks, at least they’re consistent there, but what is really killing them are the turnovers. The Raptors are turning the ball over almost 15 times per game and they’re doing it early in the game, which is putting them in a hole. Guys can talk all they want about TJ coming in and things going crazy from that point on in the game, but realistically, by the time TJ enters the game, the Raptors are typically down by 10 points because they can’t hold onto the ball and can’t play D after they turn it over. TJ then comes in and tries to get 10 points back each time down the floor, which only makes things worse. But just keep that in mind next time you’re blaming TJ for everything…it’s the perfect storm when he gets the call to come in.

There has been a lot of negative talk about the Raptors and TJ in the last little while, but here are a few things to ponder. First, I actually don’t mind the Raptors having this bad spell right now, because I think it will help them get focused by the time the playoffs roll around. It’s good to have a few problems before the playoffs, it toughens you up and you get to look at a lot of weak spots that you might have thought you had taken care of. Also, there was a guy in Toronto once named Rafer Alston. People here couldn’t stand him and wanted him out of town. Now that he has his game back together, he’s looking like the best PG in the league running things for Houston. Things can change, attitudes can change. Ability is always there, it just needs to be harnessed.

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Raptors vs Nuggets Preview

Game 65 Preview – Raptors headin’ to Denver.

With 18 games left in the 2007-2008 regular season, the Raptors (34-30) are heading to Denver to face off against Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony’s Nuggets (38-26). However what would normally be a reunion between 2003 draft-mates Anthony and Toronto’s Chris Bosh is derailed, as Bosh has been nursing a knee injury for the past week and is expected to miss a few more games yet. The Raptors have struggled without their franchise player, losing 6 out of the 8 games without him, 5 of those losses coming by double digits.

Defensive struggles

Surprisingly the biggest struggle the Raptors have faced is not on the offense end, where they would be expected to miss Bosh’s 22.6 points per game. The team has managed to maintain a similar offensive output and have scored over 100 points in 6 of the 8 games. Rather the problem has been more defensively. The Raptors are giving up over 108 points per game over the last 8, which juxtaposed with the team’s season average (97 points per game), is startling. While Bosh has proven to be an adequate defender, and while the pace of the team has slightly increased with the return of back-up point guard TJ Ford, there is no excuse for such a letdown over the past few weeks. Furthermore, what has plagued the Raptors over their cold streak is a lack of consistency in particular areas. Against the Charlotte a few weeks ago they were annihilated on the glass, while against the Los Angeles Lakers they rebounded well but let the opposition score 20 3 point shots. Against Indiana they were beat repeatedly on the dribble, while against the Golden State Warriors they fell down 20 early because of turning the ball over. To truly be successful in the NBA you need fundamental consistency game to game, and the Raptors have recently suffered from a lack of it.

Competitive on the West Coast swing, but no rewards yet

Despite these problems, the Raptors have managed to be competitive on the first 2 games of their 5 game West Coast swing, closing to within a couple points late against both Los Angeles and actually taking a small lead against Golden State, only to eventually lose both games. While their competitiveness without Bosh is admirable, the team must learn to spread the ball better in the 4th quarter and utilize all their options. Anthony Parker, the team’s hottest player as of late, had racked up 21 and 22 points through the first 3 quarters of both games, only to be denied a single shot attempt from that point on in either game. Andrea Bargnani, who has been playing well in Bosh’s absence, has also been denied many attempts in the crunch-time of games. On the flipside, TJ Ford respectively attempted 12 and 10 shots in each final quarter. In order to win the game if it is close in the 4th quarter tonight, Parker and Bargnani will need more touches.

In the other corner…

Despite having 4 more wins than the playoff-bound Raptors, because of a large East-West record disparity, the Nuggets are on the outside of the West playoff race looking in. Currently 2 games behind the Golden State Warriors, nearly every game from this point on is must-win for Denver, especially at home against the injured team like the Raptors. For that reason, Toronto should see this game as one where they have nothing to lose, while the pressure lies completley on the opponent. The Nuggets missing the playoffs would be seen as a monumental disaster for the team, who after acquiring Allen Iverson last year and having a very impressive 10-1 month of April to end their season, had aspirations of competing for a title with the star, let alone make the playoffs.

The Nuggets run a very up-tempo offense centered on Iverson and Anthony’s scoring ability, expect the two to carry most of the offensive load. Defensive player of the year Marcus Camby should also present an issue as one of the league’s strongest rebounding centers and shot blockers. It will likely be difficult to stop Iverson and Anthony from scoring their share of points, however if the Raptors can keep the rest of the Nuggets’ talented lineup off the score-sheet, they can put themselves in a position to win the game. Linas’ Kleiza played well against the Raptors in their meetings last year, expect him to be an X-factor of sorts for the game.

Keys to the game…

1. 48 minutes of defensive pressure – A must against a tough team on the road, there is no room for soft pressure with Bosh out of the lineup.

2. Point guards spreading the wealth – Ford and Calderon have been most effective when getting the team involved rather than scoring themselves, to win the Raptors need a collective effort from all the options on the floor.

3. Expose the wing – The Nuggets have defensive issues in the 1, 2, and 3 positions. The Raptors should look to attack these weaknesses and create better shot oppurtunities through penetration.

Here’s hoping for some salami and cheese tonight!

This preview courtesy of The MVP of West Hollywood.

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Raps vs. Lakers Preview

This could be a perfect storm…for the Lakers. The Raptors haven’t been playing well lately, are without their star player and the Lakers are coming off a loss to the Kings…yes, the Kings who have won 2 of their last 9. The Lakers might have received a little talk after the game and might be looking to get back into the swing of things against the Raptors.

But let’s not assume it will all be doom and gloom for the Raptors. The Lakers are middle of the pack defensively and while the Raptors are missing Chris Bosh, the most vital part of their offense, they still have the ability to score points by sharing the ball. Since Bosh went down (including the Indiana game), the Raptors have been averaging 104 points, about 4 more than their season average. That stat comes with a caveat - the points have been piled up against Indiana, Charlotte, Orlando, Miami, Washington and Seattle and only one of those teams (the Wiz) are part of the league’s top 15 defensive teams.

The good thing is that even though they have played some defensively weak teams, the Raptors have been able to put points up on the board without Bosh, showing that they are able to work more than a two-man game. Confidence comes from scoring the points, but it builds on using the ability to score to translate into a win. If that win could take place in LA, then it could provide the Raptors with the little bit of momentum they are going to need to get through this road trip…a road trip that may not see Bosh in a uniform at any point.

There have been a lot of complaints regarding the Raptors and their defense, but defending has not been that big of a problem for the Raptors. They are in the top 10 and have shown that they are able to turn that good D into some transition points, getting down the floor quickly for uncontested layups. The problem for the Raptors has always been rebounding. We all know that Kobe likes to shoot, even though he is passing more than before. If he gets hot, which he usually does, it could be a long night for the Raptors. But if Kobe comes out cold and they are able to pick a couple of rebounds and head the other way, they just might have a chance. End of the game, if the rebounding totals are close, I wouldn’t be surprised if the score is close.

Enjoy the game.

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