What better way to celebrate beating the Nets than having to play another game the next day? Game 2 of this road trip takes the Blazers up north of the border to Canada to square off with the Raptors. A few things surprise me about this game. For one, I’m pretty certain the Blazers have tended to end up playing Toronto on Sundays which has lead to those weird 10 AM Pacific time starts which sometimes meant waking up to the game already in the third quarter. So in some ways this is a blessing. Also surprising, this is the first time that the Raptors and Blazers have faced off this year…which means this is the first time that Hedo Turkoglu will face the team he shunned so publicly over the summer. Is that still a story or am I being very ESPN-esque by bringing that up? I feel ashamed.
To the game, the Raptors come into tonight having won 10 of their last 12. In that stretch they have gone from 21-22 to 31-24 and are now firmly in the #5 spot in the Eastern Conference. They are led by their All-Star, All-Everything Chris Bosh who is being reported all over twitter as being OUT tonight. Thus his 24.5 points a game, 11.4 rebounds and dreadlocks mean nothing to this preview. This is good news for Portland but not great because the Raptors have been without Bosh the past couple games and are 2-0. I should say those wins came against the Nets and Wizards but I feel like that would kill my point. Anyways, without Bosh not only do they lose their leading scorer and rebounder, they lose their interior presence on both ends of the court. Enter Andrea Bargnani….and I’m not kidding. Bargnani is having a career year, finally resembling the #1 pick that no one thought he could ever become: 17.5 pts, 6.3 boards, 1.5 blocks a game. Bargnani may be blocking more shots but the Raptors don’t exactly look for him to score on the low block which is where the Raptors will miss having Bosh the most. There is a big difference between him and Rasho Nesterovic/Reggie Evans/Amir Johnson. Behind Bargnani is Turkoglu, our old friend Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon. I have a personal, fantasy basketball related vendetta against Calderon thus I won’t be wasting anymore words on him. We all know what to expect from Jack, as he could drop 25 or 2. The Raptors are a bunch of capable but inconsistent players.
Despite the absence of Bosh there is still a lot working in the Raptors favor. They are currently 4th in the NBA in points per game, putting up 104.7 a game. This is bad news for Blazer fans because when opponents score 100 or more, all hell breaks loose and it’s usually a loss. Toronto also plays tough in the Air Canada Centre with a record of 21-7 at home, tied for the 5th most home victories in the league. They also have won 15 of their last 17 games at home and that stat dates all the way back to December 13th. Toronto is not exactly a team that is going to beat itself as they don’t turn it over a lot. They also attack the basket and find their way to the line. Say what you want about the inconsistencies surrounding guys like Jarrett Jack, Jose Calderon and Turkoglu but they can all create offense for themselves and others.
With both Marcus Camby and Chris Bosh being out for tonight’s contest, things got a lot more interesting. In Toronto’s case they take a huge hit offensively as they lose a low post presence and their superstar. Portland however loses the guy that allows them to look like something resembling a defensive unit. You would like to see LaMarcus Aldridge go to work on Toronto’s frontline without Bosh. I’d venture out to say it may be disappointing if he doesn’t. I’m interested to see how Brandon Roy’s hamstring holds up on a back to back. I compared his hamstring to a stripper the other day and then he comes out and drops 28 points on 14 shots. Let’s aim for him continuing to look better and better but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be ok with no setbacks. Andre Miller also should have some opportunities and space to work against Calderon and Jack. All of this being said, we all need to page Batum/Martell/Rudy so they stop being a 3-headed vacuum. I’m just waiting for one of them to break out and it’s like all of them are resisting the idea of just going out and beating the others. I swear the last few games everytime I look at their three stats they combine for 4-for-14 or 3-for-16 or something like that. The team needs more production from them especially with Bayless hobbled/adjusting to not having Blake around anymore. The Blazers can’t win tough road games without them playing well and they can’t make a serious playoff run with them playing like this.
(And sidenote, when I was little I learned that you can’t really complain about something if you aren’t in a good position too. Like I couldn’t complain about not getting to eat dessert if I hadn’t touched my vegetables. Or I couldn’t complain about not getting a video game if my grades were straight poopy. Taking those wacky transcripts with a grain of salt as usual, but really Rudy? This month you’re averaging 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.4 turnovers, shooting 31.9% from the field and 25.6% from three and you’ve shot three times as many threes as you have free throws. I’m just saying. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. You can say this and that about your role, missing Sergio, all of that. The numbers aren’t really saying you should get a bigger role in the offense. I’m just saying….You might want to chill out until you start producing, brah.)
Topics: Andrea Bargnani, Blazers Raptors, Blazers Road Trip, Brandon Roy, Chris Bosh, Jarrett Jack, Jerryd Bayless, Jose Calderon, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Marcus Camby Injured, Marcus Camby Out, Portland Trail Blazers, Reggie Evans, Toronto Raptors