Things just aren’t shaping up very well for the Raptors on this one. When you have an already talented Utah Jazz club coming into town, things are going to be tough, but when you have a Jazz team coming in looking for its 11th win in a row and looking to get out on the right foot at the start of a 5 game road trip, well, then things are going to be even tougher.
I love watching Deron Williams play. If you give me a toss up on Chris Paul or Deron Williams, I am going to take Williams because I think he is tougher and has better late game court decisions. Having Boozer on the floor helps give him a big target, but you don’t really see that setup in the same sort of traditional PG - Big setup that you usually see. This is more of Boozer creating space, grabbing rebounds and putting things back.
What also makes me a bit fearful is that since the Raptors have gone to their new running style, D has gone completely out the window, as the Raptors have given up more than 100 points 7 games in a row. Utah is 6th in the league in scoring and the Raptors average over 101 points given up per game. It might not be pretty.
Last time around, the Raptors had all kinds of problems guarding Paul Millsap, as he banged guys around and essentially bullied the Raptors into giving up 17 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Since then, the Raptors have looked a little bit tougher against some of the bigger guys in the league, but they are going to have their hands full with the Jazz lineup, where there is no shortfall of big men who are tough and can play. Realistically, Boozer and Millsap are undersized big men, but the way they play, it feels like they are legit big men. Let’s not forget Okur out there as another big man with game.
As for the Raptors, well, going into the last quarter of games this season, the Raptors have continued with some more losses, starting out the last quarter like most of the rest of the season: on a disappointing note. The Raptors are once again going to need a big game from their big men, but even more importantly, they are going to need Jose to show up.
The word from the game against the Heat is that Jose wasn’t injured, but was benched for poor performance and attitude, so knowing Jose, we will probably see a more inspired guy today. I’m not completely sold on Jose being 100%, but just not having a good game and a poor attitude, I don’t care if it comes right from his mouth. I think when the season is over and Jose has had some time to rest, we will see the usual guy back next season. Now, can we please shut him down on the international stuff over the summer?
3 in the Key
1. Jose has to return to form if the Raptors are going to have a chance.
2. Once again, let’s not “Guy Larose” the guy, but Pops bringing that kind of energy and toughness can only do good things for the Raptors, on the mental side and also on the physical side.
3. Andrea will have to have another one of those “shut-down” games on D and then bring it on the offensive end or this one could get ugly.