"Behind Enemy Lines"

Rip off the band-aid. Take a deep breath. OK, now I am ready. Today's edition of "Behind Enemy Lines" is difficult to write since my job is to bring you the dibs on the Raptors' opponents and what the Raptors need to do to win. Each week, I pride myself on highlighting the positive qualities of our beloved Raptors but it seems like lately, all the other team has to do is show up and the Raptors walk away dejected and win less. The only reason the Raptors are not in the bottom of East is because Cleveland and their 26-game losing streak is. Oh hey, there is a positive - I feel so much better. The Raptors are at home this week hosting Portland, L.A. Clippers and Miami. Let's get it.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Toronto Raptors - Friday, February 11th:
  • The Blazers and Raptors have met once already this season - November 6th, 97-84 Portland.
  • At the time, the Raps were 1 and 5 and Portland was 5 and 2. (Now? Raptors 14-39, Blazers 28-24).
  • During their last game, three Portland players were over 20 points on the night: Brandon Roy - 26, LeMarcus Aldridge-22, Nicolas Batum - 20. For the Raptors? Jarett Jack - 16 (doesn't do them much good now), Andrea Bragnani, Leandro Barbosa and Jose Calderon all had 12 points.
  • Portland lead the first three quarters of that game - the Raptors edged them in the fourth but it was not enough.
  • Portland's Inactive list: Armon Johnson, Greg Oden, Elliot Williams and Brandon Roy. Roy is back at practice and will be a game day decision on Friday. Marcus Camby was not in the line up on Monday against Chicago with a left knee injury. He is day to day.
  • The Raptors need to watch: LaMarcus Aldridge - he had a career high of 42 points against the Bulls on Monday.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Toronto Raptors - Sunday, February 13th:

  • This will be the first meeting of season for the Raptors and Clippers.
  • The Clippers have been enjoying some press and attention as a result of the Blake Griffin show, but the Clippers are still 3 spots from last place in the West (13th).
  • The Clippers will be meeting Cleveland this Friday before meeting Toronto on Sunday.
  • Since both DeMar DeRozan and Blake Griffin are competing against each other in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest next weekend, this game may be a "look what I can do" preview - one to watch.
  • The Raptors need to watch: Besides Blake Griffin, the Raptors need to watch Clippers guard Baron Davis who had 16 points, 16 assists against the Knicks on Wednesday (116-108 Clippers).

Miami Heat @ Toronto Raptors - Wednesday, February 16th:

  • Miami and Toronto played twice this season - November 13th (109-100 Miami) and January 22 (120-103 Miami).
  • As of the January 22nd meeting, Miami was 31-13 and the Raptors were 13-31. (Now Miami is 38-14, 2nd behind Boston in the East).
  • The top 4 scorers in that game for Miami were: LeBron James - 38; Mike Miller - 32; James Jones - 15 and Eddie house (off the bench) - 13.
  • The top four scorers for the Raptors were: DeMar DeRozan - 30; Andrea Bargnani - 28; Jose Calderon - 14 and Amir Johnson - 14.
  • Miami lead the first half, Toronto surged in the third but Miami sealed their win in the fourth.
  • Miami Inactive list: Udonis Haslem, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman.
  • The Raptors need to watch: Beside the obvious LeBron James? Chris Bosh. He had 19 points and 7 rebounds against the Pacers this week. Plus, he may be taking the "play it cool" advice from LeBron and his return to Cleveland. If the Raptors want to take this win, they need to thwart to efforts of Chris Bosh to be easy-going and joking around with his former teammates. If he plays calm (as LeBron did in his return to Cleveland) the Raptors will be in trouble.

Once again, thank-you for joining me this week. As always keep your comments and discussions coming by following me on Twitter (@ddegraauw) and on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw, red microphone). Have a great weekend and see you on Tuesday for more NBA coverage in "NBAz in 7 Dayz".

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