The Raptors are in the weird and wacky land that is L.A for Friday the 13th. Did you know that Friday the 13th is considered lucky by folks from Italy? Growing up here in Hamilton, I have had many friends who have roots back to Italy. You get a reminder of that every time there is a World Cup going on. You would swear that I had moved to Italy. If you have ever been to Hamilton at that time you know what I am talking about. So if my friends from Italy were telling me the truth that should mean it is a lucky day for Bellinelli and Bargnani tonight. Not sure the background as to why it is considered lucky if someone knows please leave a comment and explain.
The Raptors will take any kind of good fortune they can get going off to the West Coast as not been kind. Speaking of not kind Matt Devlin peels off some dreadful stats about the Clippers in his " Life On The Second Bus" Feature on Raps.com. If you are a younger reader you may not realize the Clippers use to be the Buffalo Braves back in the day as Matt mentions in that feature with Jack Armstrong. Buffalo has been a cursed town with the Bills Super Bowl losses, The Sabres loss in a Stanley Cup on a goal that should not have counted. The Music City Miracle and on and on it goes. Moving to California has not helped the Clippers escape that Buffalo bad luck. The Clippers lost the first round pick Blake Griffin on the eve of the season for 6-8 weeks. They also will be with out their young star in Eric Gordon as well tonight. While the Raptors, despite a hip issue, should have Hedo Turkoglu good to go tonight.
The Raptors really need a win here as no surprise that the Clippers are the easiest team they will face on this trip. The Suns despite losing 121-102 the Lakers the Suns have been on a major tear to start the season. The only other loss they have is to the Orlando Magic. It is important the Raptors do not let the long trip to L.A allow them an excuse to not bring it from the opening tip. When you are a team like the Raptors you can not afford to take anyone or any situation lightly. We have already seen in Memphis and San Antonio cases where the Raptors did and they have to L's to show for it. If the Raps won those 2 games the outlook from this team would be a lot different. 6-2 sounds a heck of a lot better than 4-4 does it not? If the Raptors can return home 6-6 they likely would be a happy group. In order for that to happen there is no question a win over the Clippers has to be part of that equation. After that if they can steal on from the Suns, Nuggets or Jazz you have a 2-2 trip and do not lose any momentum. If the team goes 1-3 or God forbid 0-4 that is not going to be good news. They face a tough 3 game homestand vs Miami, Orlando and an easier one vs the Pacers. Although don't tell T.J Ford and the Pacers that.
No one said that November was going to be easy and as the Raptors advance through this month you are getting to see that. How the Raptors can survive it is to play better on the defensive end. It is clear this team has more than enough offense to get the job done on most nights. They can score with just about anyone in this league. Where the difference happens is the great teams can start strong and finish stronger. I have always felt basketball is on of the hardest sports to come from behind and win. It is like you are trying to climb a mountain. Once you get to the top and get back to level or ahead by just 2. Many times the team that has lead throughout will have one final push and get the win. What happened against the Bulls went totally against that logic and is rare. Good teams be they great defensively or not understand when there are those key moments and possessions in game that they need to step it up. The Playoffs only increase in those moments and if a team can not get those stops the odds will catch up with them in the end.
Chris Bosh and his play may not land him on the Tonight Show while in L.A. Even though he did work for them in playoffs when it was Jay Leno's show. You know when they got good ratings. However his start has been one of the better ones in the NBA. It may get ignored by some because of the Raps 4-4 record but CB4 has been very good. This is also a homecoming for Demar DeRozan who is an L.A kid. He rolls back home on the momentum of his best game as a pro. It should be a big thrill for him to be playing at the Staples Center and better to do that the first time against the Clippers and NOT THE LAKERS!!!
Perhaps the worst thing about the Raptors failures on the west coast in the past is that you have to stay up so late to watch them fail. It is no fun to watch a game that starts at 10:30 and come out on the losing end of it. That does not send you to bed with happy thoughts. Here is hoping the Raps get a win and send Raps fans to bed with a positive attitude and a 5-4 record. Losing to the Clippers no matter the circumstances is always a tough pill to swallow.