While the Raptors and Dwane Casey have been given great credit for the change in their ability to defend this year that has not been the case vs the Bobcats. In game one in Toronto the Bobcats shot 50% from the field and 40% for beyond the three point line. While the re-match a few weeks ago it was worse with the Bobcats shooting 50.7% from the field and 44.4% from three point line.
D.J Augustin has always seemed to have some success vs the Raptors. In that game in March he had a great night with 23 points and 11 assists but he did commit 5 turnovers. All of those numbers might be a moot point though as Jose Calderon was out of the line-up and he was matched with Jerryd Bayless for most of the evening. Bayless is now out for the season. Still, even against Calderon in the first game in Toronto in February, he was good with 11 points and 10 assists. In that game it was Reggie Williams who dominated the game with 22 points which is well above his 8.9 points per game he is averaging this season. In the most recent game along with Augustin getting 23 it was Gerald Henderson leading the Cats with 24 and Corey Maggette decided to to show up and poured in 21.
A key might Andrea Bargnani who missed the first game against the Bobcats and only saw limited minutes in the second game playing just 27 minutes on the 2nd half of a back to back not long after returning from his calf injury. He had 11 points in that game. He did lead the Raptors in scoring with 18 points against the Wizards on Sunday. He has shown only flashes of the Bargnani we saw at the start of the season and it is a growing concern to me. His improvement on the defensive end in sagging as well. This is a game in which he will be the most talented player on the floor and he needs to play like it.
You want an x-factor in this game? Bismack Biyombo blocked 7 shots in the first game in Toronto and none in the second in Charlotte. The Raptor had they not had Jonas on the board were said to be very interested in Biyombo in last seasons draft. You can understand why they were interested with his ability to block shots something that has been lacking for the Raptors for almost a decade.
In terms of this upcoming draft both these teams had to drool just a bit at what Anthony Davis did in the NCAA Tournament winning a National Championship with Kentucky. He is expected to be the first overall pick and no one is disputing that after his performance in the NCAA Tournament. His teammate Kidd-Gilchrist has been a favourite choice of Raptor fans. The fact Dwane Casey has close ties to Kentucky also would give some credence to thinking the Raptors will look long and hard at him. However, regardless of the result tonight it would appear without some lottery help that Bobcats will be the ones with a shot at perhaps both of these kids come the draft in June.
1. Defend the Arc: I mentioned the numbers and they don't lie. Raptors need to do a much better job on the perimeter if they want to avoid the embarrassment of being swept by the Bobcats.
2. Win Turnover Battle: The team that takes better care of the ball will have a huge advantage. Both of these teams have player that love to run in transition and best way to get those chances is turnovers.
3. Pride: This is a team that you a are better than go out there and prove it.