2) Continue to Clog the Paint:
To say that I’m slightly concerned about the points in the paint differential tonight would be an understatement. Randolph is one of the best low-post scorers in the league, Baron Davis is still one of the best at breaking down a defence and getting into the paint, and if either of these two miss, there’s Marcus Camby to clean things up. It’s a volatile mix, a real Raptor-killer considering Toronto’s weaknesses on the glass and guarding the perimeter and that’s why the team needs to force the Clippers to beat them from outside. The Raptors despite their recent losing streak have actually been much improved defensively (opponent field goal percentages are down to about 43 per cent) so the hope here is that they can keep this up against the Clips, and mostly by limiting LA’s ability to score right around the basket. The Clippers are still the second-worst team in the league in terms of offensive efficiency so tonight the need will be force bad shots. If Toronto gets beat by long-range heaves courtesy of Ricky and Baron Davis, so be it but they can’t let LA’s big 3, or others like Thornton and Gordon, get easy scores around the rim.
Oh…and this of course means keeping guys off the glass for second-chance points as well…
3) Transition Defence:
The Clippers might not be the most efficient team offensively, but they do play at one of the fastest paces in the league (10th in fact.) Add on the fact that they are starting to rebound the ball much better with Zach and Marcus up front, and this doesn’t bode well for Toronto’s transition D, something that’s struggled all year. The Raptors really need to make an effort to get back if they can’t get boards and this means stopping the ball. Calderon will have his hands full with Baron Davis but it’s Toronto’s wings that really need to put pressure on ball handlers on the break. And on the other side, while Toronto should be slowing things down to take advantage of Bosh and O’Neal, I hope to see Roko switch up the pace when he’s in the game and create in transition.
This in many ways could be a tide turner for the road trip. A win would be a nice way to end things before the Christmas break and before the road swing bottoms out against teams like Sacto and G State.
A loss and what should be a nice break for the holidays might seem like a life-sentence.