3/11/12

Buck Off A Hour Early

The Raptors may appreciate the fact we have sprung ahead. It is one hour less they don't have to wait to put what happened in Detroit behind them. They will be attempting to do that without Jose Calderon in all likelihood. After Jose had been having one of his most durable seasons in years he stepped on Brandon Knight's foot and turned his ankle badly. X-Rays were negative but I am positive we don't see Calderon for quite awhile. Which makes you wonder if the Raptors will still release Anthony Carter as planned. There was no official announcement that they had done that. However, it was common knowledge that was the plan. Just four days prior to the trade deadline the Raptors are awfully thin at the point guard position. It makes any chance of dealing Calderon likely go out the window. Still that was a remote possibility at best. Andrea Bargnani is back and will be interesting to see how much he plays after just 19 minutes yesterday against Detroit. The Raptors planned to limit his minutes heading into the game. The game itself helped limit his minutes by it being a blowout.

The Bucks are a team that knows all about injuries they have had their fair share over the years with their top player Andrew Bogut. He is a lot like Bargnani in the sense of being a first overall pick that has always struggled to meet lofty expectations. The Bucks are trying to hunt down the struggling New York Knicks coming into the day just 2 games behind them for the final playoff spot in the East. While they try to hold off Cleveland and Detroit from passing them. The Cavs enter the day percentage points behind the Bucks with 2 games in hand. While the Pistons thanks to that win vs the Raptors are just a game and half behind those two teams. They all have thoughts of tracking down the Knicks for the final playoff spot.

Brandon Jennings gets to pay a visit to one of his favourite places according to his Twitter. He also gets to match-up with his childhood friend Demar DeRozan. These two grew up in L.A and have played together as kids in AAU programs and are very close friends. It leads to speculation of if the two players may ever hook up somewhere together on the same team in the NBA. Jennings has let it be known that he plans to investigate his options once he hits the open market in a few years. Could Toronto be in the mix to land him? Jose Calderon's contract would be ending at the same time. Jennings said he wants to play in a large market which for some Toronto would be and for others it would not be. The more wins the Raptors get the larger the market may become not just for Jennings but other free agents.

Winning is going to be a lot tougher without Jose Calderon. As much as the Raptors missed Bargnani given their lack of depth at point Calderon could be a greater loss for this team that even with him has been challenged to score at times. It is a huge opportunity for Jerryd Bayless who will see a ton of minutes now after he himself was sidelined for a large part of the beginning of the season from an ankle turn similar to that of the one Calderon suffered.

3 Keys Today:

1. Ball Movement- It is vital that Raptors keep the ball movement going. They did a tremendous job of that vs Houston and not so much vs Detroit. No Jose makes it a much harder task but Bayless needs to remember to be a distributor more than a scorer with Calderon out.

2. Pride- Quite simply yesterday should have been a complete embarrassment for this team. Dwane Casey should have to say very little for this team to respond after a mess like that. If they don't respond you can bet Casey will have a lot to say.

3. Contain the Lead Deer- Brandon Jennings was always going to be a problem in this game. Jose Calderon healthy or not was not going to be able to guard him. Bayless has shown flashes of great defense this season when matched against Deron Williams. We could use some of that effort today against Mr. Jennings.

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