So in case you forgot the Raptors enter this unofficial 2nd half of the season with a 29-23 record and 5th in the East they are 4.5 games out of 3rd and the lead in the Atlantic Division. They kick off the second half busting out those Huskies jerseys that they are 3-0 in to take on what use to be Canada's other team in the Grizzlies. It is the first of 11 games the Raptors have left vs the Western Conference left on their schedule. Raptors actually have a winning record vs the West with a record of 9-7 this season. However one of those loses was to these Grizzlies way back in the Raptors first road game in the season.
Zach Randolph was a big reason why the Grizzlies won that game 115-107. Randolph had 30 points and 7 rebounds in that win. The Raptors are a much different team from that one in many ways. One of those difference is Reggie Evans is back and he is a guy that can bring some wood to Zach if called upon to do so. Chris Bosh in that game had 37 points and 12 rebounds in that loss in Memphis. The difference has been that Bosh has had more support from his team than in those early days of this Raptors squad. So much so that Bosh has said he would be happy if the Raptors did not make a move on Thursday.
Guys like Hedo Turkoglu who should be back tonight after missing the last game prior to the break for personal reasons and Demar DeRozan returns off an all star weekend experience will need to pick it up down the stretch. DeRozan I was reading in Holly Mackenzie's notes from practice got to talk with the legend Bill Russell. There is no player alive today that I personally respect more than Bill Russell. He is like the grandfather to the NBA and he has always been willing to share his knowledge with anyone that wants to listen. Demar has said he is a student of the game and that is a heck of a teacher. Chris Bosh also had got to talk with Russell in the playoffs a few years back as Russell was at the ACC for a playoff game.
When you say Bill Russell, it just makes the green and white of the Celtics. While the Raptors I expect will look much the same come Thursday as they do right now. The Celtics are a much different story. I think if Boston walks away from trade deadline without having made a major move or two there will be massive disappointment in Celtics Nation. They are not thinking about the Raptors chasing them down in the Atlantic. They are asking what they need to do in order to beat a Cleveland, that is also talking about bulking up for a push for the NBA finals.
When the smoke all clears the Raptors will have a better idea of the challenge that lies in front of them. Raptors will need to keep it rocking on the home floor where they are an impressive 20-6 so far this season. Raptors have 15 more home dates left including tonight's game vs the Grizzlies. The Raptors would like to hop for a win total in the 30's which would mean going just 10-5 in those games which does not seem impossible given the way they have played thus far.
As I was writing got word that I will be liveblogging this one for The Score.com and Score Mobile. So if you can not tear yourself away from the Olympics make sure you keep up with your Raptors with me on the Live Blog. I will post the link here later in the day and post them on my twitter account @Dinonationblog . Just want to close today by say congrats to Danielle, who I have nicknamed "Our Double D" , she has been doing a great job with her weekly feature on Tuesdays. If you missed it yesterday go check it out.
Just 30 games to go the push to the playoffs begins now. Are you Ready?
Let's GO THEN....LIVE BLOG RAPTORS AND GRIZZLIES ON THE SCORE 6:50pm WE GET BALL(in)