Game 16: Raps vs. Lakers – Pre-Game

Sorry for not dropping a post-game report for the Hawks game Friday night, but I essentially got Doug Christied that night.  We’ve all been there before.  Anyway, on to the Lakers.

Last year, early in the season, the Celtics looked like the champs.  Everybody was saying that the Celtics were the team to beat, that they were the lock for the championship.  They had a little bit of a rocky ride in the playoffs, but during the regular season, it was pretty much as nice and smooth as a team could hope.  This year, if you aren’t talking about the Lakers in the same vein as you did the Celtics last year, then you have to be a little crazy.  I would venture to say that the Lakers this season are even a little scarier than the Celtics were last season.

The thing that makes the Lakers scary this season isn’t the fact that they are 13-1 and have won 6 straight (well, that’s scary in itself, but I’m talking about what makes them additionally scary), it’s that they have Andrew Bynum back in the mix.  Remember, when the Lakers were bounced last season against the Celtics, Bynum was on the bench, missing a good chunk of the season from his dislocated kneecap and he was in a serious breakout year.  With Bynum tough on the boards and bringing good size to the floor, Kobe being Kobe and Gasol almost averaging a double-double, that’s a pretty scary thing to start thinking about.  You might argue that Vujacic has as quick of a release as Kapono (although both of them seem to come out of nowhere some games…let’s hope Sasha decides to sleep in this one).  It’s a tough lineup.

The other thing that makes the Lakers scary is that they’re just not out there putting up points (although they do lead the league in that category, so watch out); they can play some D too, currently ranked 8th in points allowed.  You can attribute some of that to Bynum and his presence in the middle, as he has been able to change a lot of shots, just like JO has done in Toronto for the Raptors.  The game is a whole lot different when the middle gets clogged up.  When the lane doesn’t get clogged, you have players who end up, I don’t know, scoring 81 points. 

I don’t think we have to worry about Kobe scoring 81 points against the Raptors on Sunday, but not because the Raptors are a good defensive team, because they’re not.  We don’t have to worry about that happening again, because before it even got to 60, JO would take off his brace and beat Kobe with it before he had himself or his team embarrassed like that.  We should all assume that JO will be back in the lineup against the Lakers, but we can also assume that the Lakers are going to challenge JO early and try to get him on the bench.  They know that this is his first game back in and they also know that when he isn’t in the lineup, there are some gaping holes in the middle of the court.

It will be interesting to see how Bosh performs.  He has been having an MVP season, but these are the kind of games where you can really take a look at where you are as a team right now.  You will have your regular starting lineup back together, you have won a couple of games and you have been playing consistent ball.  Is that enough for Bosh to keep going and try to get the game down to the final play, asking for the ball in his hands?  We’ll see.

3 in the Key

1. JO has to stay out of foul trouble if the Raptors want to have a chance.

2. Raptors bench is going to have to step up.  After a nice appearance by Kapooooh-no and Gatorade Graham, the Raptors are going to need a repeat, as they can’t expect Bosh to carry the team again.

3. Transition D will be important.  Kobe can get down the court for open dunks better than anybody in the league and Bynum is Gasol can run the floor for a big man.  The Raptors will have to get back and get set or they’ll be sinking fast.


John  on November 30th, 2008

Thanks for the preview. Am looking forward to watching the game and how the Raptors holdup against probably the best team in the NBA. Hopefully Kobe does not get his 80 but if he does it will once again show the lack of parity in the NBA.

Of course I will have to suffer through the announcers talking about the possibility of Bosh leaving in 2 years. Maybe someone can explain how lack of parity and the summer of 2010 can help to improve the NBA ??

End of rant.


Doc  on November 30th, 2008

LMAO … “Doug Christie’d” ….. I’ll have to remember that one if the boys ever give me slack for punching clock with the wife. 😉

Anyhow, I haven’t browsed the morning papers yet Jay but does it seem as though JO will be playing tonight? I hope so, but with him or without him its going to be a tough game either way. 🙁

Jay  on November 30th, 2008

From what I have heard, it looks like JO is going to play tonight, but if he does go, they’re not sure what kind of minutes he is going to play. I have a feeling that a lot of that will have to do with how close the game is.

John, as for lack of parity, I’m not sure if I completely agree with you there. I think the league is pretty healthy right now as far as parity goes. In any league, you would like a lot of teams to have a chance to win, but you do need your elite teams. They serve as a benchmark, something that other teams should strive towards. Also, it provides the opportunity for upsets, which everybody loves to see.

You’re dead on about the 2010 talk. I’m so tired of hearing about this. It’s lame. Still a lot of basketball until then. So much could happen with teams (and players) between now and then, it’s inappropriate to comment about anything that far ahead at this point.

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