The Raptors with a healthy Andrea Bargnani scoring 21 points were not able to beat the Pacers in their home opener losing 90-85. Now After Dwane Casey has proclaimed Andrea is unlikely to go and is listed as day to day the chances of a Raptor win tonight seem bleak. It is also a safe bet you will have a much smaller crowd than you did on opening night. Demar DeRozan did actually lead the Raptors scoring in that game with a flurry late in the 4th quarter. But as we discussed in an interview with Jack Armstrong last night here on the blog Demar has been struggling. The fact he will become the number one scoring option and even more of a focus of the defence is not likely to help that.
The Raptors will have Linas Kleiza who was not around for the first game. Given the lack of production they have had from the small forward position that can only help. In that game with the Pacers it was a typical night of failure on offence for Butler and Johnson combining to go 4-11 with just 9 points. Where the Raptors can make up the 22 points that Andrea Bargnani averages will be the major problem for how ever long he is out. Barry Davis a reporter for Sportsnet speculated that Andrea missed 4 games with a similar injury last year. Bargnani did go for an MRI yesterday on the injured calf. Strange as it sounds the Raptors will miss Bargnani's presence on the defence as well. The Raptors defence without Bargnani in the 4th vs the Kings was clearly not the same.
3 Keys To Game
By George You Better Stop Him- Paul George is one of the most unique covers at his position in the NBA. After all there are not to many giant shooting guards in the league. Listed at 6 foot 8 but likely is closer to 6 foot 9 or 10 the guy is a match up headache. He was a big factor is the Pacers win on opening night with 18 points. Demar DeRozan will not only have to try to find the hoop more on offence he will have to try to stop this guy on defence.
Center of Attention- We often joke in the DNB and call him a former Raptor. Which technically Roy Hibbert is. But the loss of Bargnani gives the Raptors one less big in the rotation that is already missing Aaron Gray. Could be a big night for the former Georgetown star in the place that he should have called home.
Point Guard Battle- Last time around Darren Collison owned this match-up doubling up Calderon in assists and being the straw the stirred the drink for the Pacers. Tonight Calderon like some others may feel more pressure to score and depending on his shooting could do just that. But on that defensive side of things, Collison is the prototype of the new, young and fast point guard entering into the league that have exposed Jose Calderon.
Let's face facts if Bargnani can't play tonight or tomorrow in Chicago it is very unlikely we see anything but 2 more losses added to the tally. This once .500 surprising team would be a not so surprising 4-9 if that were to take place. So as the snow finally falls in Southern Ontario so to do the Raptors. One is just a lot prettier than the other.