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Old 12-26-2012, 10:04 AM   #19 (permalink)
effin' ineffable

In the Paint
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 30,070

from someone covering the Spurs -

Spurs Nation Scouting the Raptors

The rundown

It defies logic, but the Raptors have somehow won five straight games without two of their top four scorers.

They just lost another key player, rookie big Jonas Valanciunas, and with a three-game road trip looming for one of the league’s worst travelling teams – only Washington and Sacramento have had less success away from home – it’s a decent bet their win streak’s days are numbered.

Point guard Jose Calderon, something of a lightning rod among the Raptors fan base, has been a key factor in the recent resurgence. Thrust into the starting lineup by Kyle Lowry’s injury, he’s averaged 14.2 points and 10.7 assists over the past six games.

Their surge notwithstanding, the Raptors remain in limbo, treading water in a sea of mediocrity.

DeMar DeRozan (18.1 ppg) has performed better than many had expected after signing a large extension before the season started. The Raptors also have a decent young frontcourt corps consisting of Valanciunas and forwards Ed Davis and Amir Johnson.

But Italian center Andrea Bargnani, now injured, is a borderline bust at this point in his career, seven seasons after Toronto took him first in the 2006 draft. And no one else even remotely resembles a franchise player, leaving the Raptors without a map as they try to escape the wilderness of the post-Chris Bosh era.

Injury report

C Andrea Bargnani (elbow), out; PG Kyle Lowry (triceps), out; C Jonas Valanciunas (finger), questionable.

What to watch

* Despite ranking eighth in makes and sixth in attempts, the Raptors are one of the least accurate 3-point shooting teams in the league at 33.9 percent. They also rank in the bottom 10 in defending the 3, a potential disaster against a Spurs team coming off a franchise-record 20 3s in its most recent outing.

* One of the few areas the Raptors excel defensively is against the pick and roll. They are 14th in points per play against roll men and third against ball handlers, according the Synergy Sports. Both facets will be put to the test by the Spurs, who boast one of the better pick-and-roll attacks in the league.

* Davis (7.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) had struggled to secure consistent playing time before he was forced into a more significant role by Toronto’s injury woes. He was a huge factor in the first meeting with the Spurs, recording 15 points and 14 rebounds – including eight on the offensive end.
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