Game 22 Preview: Blazers vs. Raptors

Today's preview is brought to you courtesy of Ryan McNeill of hoopsaddict.com, the premier blog of the Toronto Raptors.  Ryan and I will be doing a podcast discussing the game and many Blazer-related things this evening and we'll have a link to it tomorrow morning.  For now I turn you over to Ryan!

Toronto Raptors Preview

Hi Portland! This is Ryan from HoopsAddict.com. I'm not sure how many readers of Blazers Edge are familiar with my site but I run a general hoops blog. Being based out of Toronto I'm a huge Raptors fan and I try to record postgame podcasts following the majority of Raptors games.

Since Toronto isn't one of the stronger or better known Eastern Conference teams Dave asked me to write a quick game preview so Blazers fans will have a background on the Raptors heading into Sunday afternoons game.

 Meet the Raptors

Chris Bosh had a great summer as he had the opportunity to play for Team USA during the summer and he finally picked up the mean streak that Raptors fans were hoping he would eventually develop. Bosh is tearing it up this season with averages of 20.5 points and 12.5 boards per game however he's battling an eye infection that is affecting his vision. Also worth noting is that when the Bulls played a smaller, more athletic player in Luol Deng against him on Friday he was unable to get an entry pass in the post. While Zack Randolph is the player that most Blazers fans would predict to guard Bosh I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Travis Outlaw get a chance to guard Bosh.

While Bosh is the present, the future of star of this team is top draft pick Andrea Bargnani. While the Raptors will continue to build around Bosh in a couple of years Bosh and Bargnani will form a lethal one-two punch. Bargnani struggled out of the gate this season adapting to the style of play in the NBA but over his past six games he's averaged over 13.3 points per game and has shown that he's capable of averaging 20 points per game in the NBA once he gets more minutes. Portland fans might not get the chance to see Bargnani play on Sunday as he sat on Friday's game against the Bulls due to back problems.

Sticking with the "Euro Invasion" a little longer, two of the other big additions to the Raptors this season have been Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa. Both players have been the "glue" players for the Raps early on as they don't provide flashy boxscores but they do valuable things on the court fo the Raptors. Garbajosa has great court vision for a big man and he uses his high basketball iq after playing over 10 years of pro basketball in Europe while Parker is one of out top defenders and has a lethal jump shot that he uses within the flow of the offense. Both players were huge steals in free agency as their combined salaries are just over the mid-level exemption.

Beware of the Raptors two-headed monster at the point guard position! TJ Ford and Jose Calderon are both lighting quick guards who have shown this season that they can blow by opposing guards at will. However, both players are pass-first point guards and will look to get their teammates involved in the offense before they look for their own shot. These players are a deadly combination as they normally combine for 20 points and 12 dimes.

Two players that are poised for breakout games are Fred Jones and Morris Peterson. Mo' Pete missed the past two weeks due an injury and he's looking to retain his spot in the starting line-up by chucking up mo' shots. A motivated Mo Pete could explode for 20 points if he gets the minutes Sunday afternoon. Another swing player that could post big numbers if Fred Jones. Jones has been mired in a horrific shooting slump but over the past two games he's stopped chucking up ill-timed shots from beyond the arc and instead has returned to attacking the rim. If Jones is able to get some easy dunks early on it will continue to restore his confidence he could drop 15 points, 5 boards and 5 dimes on Portland.

What the Blazers Will Try to Do

The Raptors game plan will look something like this:

  • Dump the ball into Chris Bosh in the post and let him prey on slow big men like LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla and Jamaal Magloire.
  • Jorge Garbajosa, Rasho Nesterovic and Kris Humphries will all "bully" Zack Randolph when he gets the ball until Chris Bosh can slide over for a double-team. This season Toronto has a lot of depth in the frontcourt so expect them to use some fouls to set a tone for the paint as they get physical with Zack early on.
  • Look for TJ Ford and Jose Calderon to use their experience against Portland's young point guards. Calderon is only a sophomore in the League (like Jarrett Jack) but the confidence he picked up this summer winning a World Championship for Spain has him playing like a grizzled vet this year.
How to Beat the Raptors
  • Contain Chris Bosh. Forget about trying to stop him - accept the fact he'll get 20 points and 12 boards - and make someone else on the Raptors step up. The Raptors have a roster full of strong role players but if you can prevent Bosh from busting out for a big game then it will provide your team with a chance to secure the win.
  • Find a way to get into Bosh's head. On Friday against the Bulls and Luol Deng were able to frustrate him and his game fell apart in the second half.
  • Figure out a way to get us to stop attacking the lane and instead "encourage" us to hoist up bombs from the perimeter. Far too often we've gotten comfortable jacking up bombs despite have post players that can score easy buckets for us.
I'm looking forward to chatting with Dave Sunday evening following the game and having a Postgame Podcast on both of our sites sometime Sunday evening.

Ryan
hoopsaddict.com

P.S.  If you want to read the preview I did for Toronto fans it's here.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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