Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The week ahead

The week ahead for the Raptors is a crucial one. It’s time to get this party started.

Since the Dallas game, this team has looked much better then compared to the majority of the first handful of games. When you look at the past four games, they won two of them while losing the other two due to MVP performances. Now, of course, you would still like to see this team be able to stop/overcome those MVP players, but it is still early. Right now the team is at 7-7 and with Chris Bosh playing back to his all-star level, the rotation starting to take solid shape and Mitchell using 8 or 9 guys tops, which is what I was begging for a few weeks ago. With Moon looking like he is legit. With Kapono starting to look like he deserved the 5.5 mil and Bargnani back to looking like “December-March” Bargnani, this is the time.

Wednesday vs Memphis
Friday vs. Cleveland
Saturday at Washington

Well, with the Memphis, that one just needs to be a “for sure” game. Playing at the ACC against a sub-500 team that you already beat a week ago. Again, the Raps can not let the shooters of Memphis get going, but as long as the defence on those guys is tight, Memphis should have no chance. Watch Bosh have another huge one against these guys.

Cleveland should be interesting because Lebron is just on another planet right now. Hopefully Lebron’s game against Boston will slow him down a little, but it’s just insane what this guy is doing. And it’s SO simple. Shooters on the outside, Lebron take his man one on one till the double comes, outside guy cuts to the net and Lebron throws a lob to the weak side for a three. Wash, rinse, repeat. Now, here is the thing… the Raptors last week had Lebron down for the count. Well…let’s not go that far, but the Raptors in the first quarter were dominating the Cavs. What ever defensive scheme the Raps drew up was working nicely and the momentum was fully in the Raptors favor. Now do you want to know what Juan Dixon was the back-up point guard against the Bulls while Martin rode the pine? Because in the Cleveland game, when Martin subbed in for Jose at the start of the 2nd, the wheels completely fell off. The Cavs got the transition game going, got some momentum and the Cav shooters started to get a rhythm going. Sure the game was still tight the rest of the way, but when playing on the opponents floor with the shooters hot and a MVP like Lebron, let’s just say that that situation is a tough one to get a victory out of. Now, if they were able to continue that pressure in the 2nd that they had in the 1st, I got a feeling it would have been a different story. Personally, what I would do is let Lebron go one on one for the most part, show some double but never fully commit, and if anything, foul Lebron hack-a-shack style. JUST don’t let the Cavs shooters ever get easy looks. Let Lebron score 50. And I know that Lebron is not as bad at the line as Shaq, but at this point, his 68 or 69 percent from the line is more appealing then letting the shooters go nuts. NOW, here is the problem with this plan. It really let’s Lebron get into a rhythm himself, so that if the game is close at the end…well, we all know what happen against Detroit in game 5 last year. Bottom line is that you need to out score the Cavs. And I will take, for example, Lebron shooting 18 for 26 from the line over the Cavs as a team shooting 12 for 19 from the 3 point line. By the way, the Raps need this one too. Got to get the momentum going.

The Wizards are playing like mad dogs right now. Sure they are missing Arenas, but unlike last year when the injury blows happened in mid-season, this Wizards team pretty much went threw training camp without Gilbert so they were already practicing and preparing for this injury situation. Now, here is the thing. Sure Butler and Antawn are great players and sure they are going to be a handful, but this team was not THAT strong when it was all three of them together, are they really that much better with just two, even when considering that they have been able to prepare for this current line-up that they have? Maybe they are, as they have been on a tear after that 0-5 start. But I just don’t feel that they are. This is going to be a tough one regardless for the Raps as it’s yet another back to back, going from Toronto to Washington the next day. And I remember a game last year when the Raps won about 3 or 4 in a row and looking good, then going to Indiana on the second half of a back to back and being exhausted and losing by about 15. They do not have the work load previous to this Washington game like they did during that Indiana game, but I can see something similar happening here, especially with the effort they will need to beat Lebron. Regardless, I just don’t feel a 2/3 week is good enough. If this team has truly turned the corner, 3/3 would be a suitable example of how they have.

Now, Jose has been playing off the wall the last few games, but we do need TJ back. Word is that TJ will be ready to go this weekend and if that’s the case, that will be a huge benefit as Jose will be dead if he has to play 40 minutes all 3 games this week. And let’s not forget that Rasho will return which would help against Big Z who killed the Raps last week.

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