The Raptors started the season looking great and winning games, but with the way the season has gone from there, it’s not a surprise that they have started the second half of the season with an L, their 5th straight loss. Now with games against the Hawks, Pistons and Bulls coming up, it’s not getting a whole lot easier for them.
The Raptors are not only having problems executing on the floor, now they are working with an even shorter bench than they had at the start of the season, as Calderon is out with a hamstring injury, Kapono has the flu (wuss…suck it up, your team is short players, put on a uni), JO apparently now doesn’t play in back-to-back games according to the team (not because he’s on the trade block…not a chance), the list goes on.
All things considered, you have to appreciate what JT has been doing with a roster that doesn’t really provide inspiration, if that is what you are looking for. Some people have said that JT doesn’t have the chops to coach at the NBA level, which is pure nonsense and the fact that he has even decided to start AP at PG while Jose is out shows that he is doing the best with what he has on hand. I can’t say I thought Joey at the 2 was going to work, but that did too. Yes, the Raptors are in emergency as far as the lineup goes, I don’t know if you really want AP running the point on an extended basis, but if he is able to continue performing as a competent PG right now for the Raptors, hopefully that can inspire the rest of the team to step up.
The Raptors are going to need to come out with some energy, which may be tough considering they just had a game on Sunday afternoon and now have to play a 2:00 against the Hawks due to MLK day. I don’t know if the Raptors are going to have the energy to keep up with the Hawks. Fatigue may be the biggest factor going into this game.
The Raptors will need a big game from their bigs. Bargs has played well, but might be a little worn out from dealing with Shaq Sunday afternoon. Bosh will need to continue to go to the basket, but he might need to show a few different parts of his arsenal in order for the Raptors to pull this one out. He is averaging 28 points against the Hawks this season and the Raptors will need him to continue that production to get a win.
What works in the Raptors favour is that Horford will be on the bench. Horford is one of those young athletic players who typically give the Raptors problems. Then again, Bibby has been a Raptor killer and he’s no spring chicken. If the Raptors are going to have AP starting at the point again, it may actually help them on the defensive end as Bibby isn’t the fastest guy and AP should be able to handle him. Bibby’s a pro and he will pose a challenge for AP, but I’ll take AP’s D against Bibby over Solomon’s or Ukic’s.
3 in the Key
1. Energy. If the Raptors play tired, they will get exposed.
2. Transition D. The Raptors showed some lack of effort on the defensive end against the Suns and didn’t look like they were in a hurry to get back down the court. That can’t happen again.
3. With a 2:00 start and no holiday in Canada, at least if the Raptors stink one out, there won’t be a big audience to see it.