Game 30: Raps vs. Blazers - Pre-game

The Raptors should really be 3-1 on this road trip, coming into this game at 2-2 after an inexcusable loss to the Thunder.  But after rolling off wins over the Clippers and the Kings, the Raptors will need to maximize the momentum they have created in order to beat the Blazers at home, especially the way Brandon Roy has been playing lately.  With Roy, we are really seeing the emergence of a solid NBA star.  Roy is hitting clutch shots, playing good D and hustling like a college player who’s looking to go first overall. 

The Raptors can take some pride in the fact that they have been tightening up their D since JT took over.  There has been a new commitment to playing better defense that we just didn’t see in the Smitch era earlier this year.  The Raptors have been leaving teams with some rushed last second shots and have been forcing teams to rely more on their ability to shoot from the perimiter than their inside abilities.  As we argued earlier, if the Spurs hadn’t had their franchise best 3-shooting night against the Raptors, the Raps played well enough to win that one. 

The Raptors are also looking better at executing set plays, which may be because they actually have set plays now.  I haven’t seen a single Roaches When the Lights Come On play in a long time (ah, feels good to say that again).  While they have been occasionally skunked, we have seen them look like they have more of a plan on the offensive end.

The Raptors are going to have to make the most of each opportunity up the court against the Blazers.  If they have the same turnover problems they had against the Kings, this one will be over early.  You can get away with turning the ball over 13 times in the first half against a team like the Kings, but when you do it to a team like the Blazers, it’s lights out.  Secure the ball, set up and execute.  That will be the MO for the Raptors. 

This might sound strange, but it will be interesting to see who the Raptors have coming off the bench when it comes to the 4th big man.  The Executioner has had limited minutes, but has brought some grit (read: thuggery).  On the other hand, we saw Hump play an effective game against the Kings.  Could it be that JT is going to play these guys against each other, making them compete for the minutes off the bench?  If it gets the best out of them, then by all means, go ahead.  Personally, I think Hump actually brings more to the table when he doesn’t start getting into “Wow, I am good…I should start shooting” modes. 

This one is going to be tough.

3 in the Key

 1. Attack Brandon Roy.  He’s playing so well right now, that the best thing for the Raptors might be to go right at him and try to get him in some early foul trouble.

2. Stay close at the half.  Against the Blazers, the Raptors just can’t afford to fall behind early.  The Blazers have the ability to just shut things down and they aren’t going to get tired on account of their youth, so the Raptors need to be within 6 at the half.

3. Use the inside game to set up the outisde.  - It’s going to be a tough game inside, but that doesn’t mean the Raptors should shy away from it.  They need to use it, but they are going to have to have guys like JK and AP ready to help pour in some points.  Bargs will need to have both sides going too.


Doc  on December 27th, 2008

Jay, Jay, Jay …. you forgot the main key to the game. Shutting down Steve Blake. ;)

Jay  on December 27th, 2008

Lol…yeah, you’re probably right. Raptor Killer.

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