In this pre-season the Raptors have had 2 teams they have faced twice. The result in both cases was the same each time. The Raptors opened the pre-season with a win over the Suns and then beat those same Suns at the ACC. The Raptors lost against Boston on the road and then lost to them again at the ACC. Tonight the Raptors take on the Bulls for a second time. In the first meeting in Chicago the Raptors got beaten badly and were crushed on the boards. The next night they would bounce back with a much better effort and a double OT win over the Sixers.
Tonight will be in some ways like the last game of the pre-season even though it is not. Raptors will head up to Montreal to take on the Knicks who they will face 5 days later to open the regular season. So much like when 2 teams meet in the NFL the week before the playoffs knowing they will face each other, it promises to be a very vanilla contest. Do not expect a lot of plays to be run and maybe not even the actual starting line-up the Raptors will sport. So that makes tonight against Chicago a bit more important then your average 2nd last game of the pre-season.
The one question that needs an answer is, who is the starting point guard? Jarrett Jack has clearly won the job if we base this on performance in the pre-season. However, it at least looks like we may see Jose Calderon end up the starter. But as most basketball coaches will say it is not who starts it is who finishes and that has been Jack. The relationship between Triano and his two point guards will be something to watch this season. The Raptors heading into last off-season were not sure if the 2 point guards could make it work together for another season. The Raptors attempt to trade Calderon to Charlotte is proof of that to an extent.
What does seem clear is no matter what Bargnani is going to be your starter at Center. It also seems likely that Kleiza will start at the 3. Still up for debate is who will be the starting 2 and 4 in this roster. If we base it on the pre-season alone that would mean Barbosa would be the starting 2. At the 4 you could probably flip a coin between Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans. Ultimately based on the investment they have made you would expect the Raptors would want to see Amir take that spot. The same would be said about Demar DeRozan at the 2 spot. You have to hope that even if they don't start the season as starters that they will be by the end of it. Not based on their contracts but based on their play.
One thing that has been decided is the roster as a whole. Ronald Dupree was released yesterday and honestly that is not a shock. He played well in Summer League and that was enough to invite to camp but not enough to make the team. The odds were long for Dupree and it was the obvious choice. Wright, Dorsey and anyone else that thought they were on the bubble can breath easy. The Raptors are 15 and now look to focus on what to do with that 15, as the season starts a week from today.
I will be on the hunt looking for folks to talk to tonight at the ACC. It should be fun. The game may not be though as the Bulls should still be able to have an advantage on the glass. But win or lose the Raptors need a much better effort then they had in Chicago.