Believe it or not you can see live Raptors basketball beginning tonight as the Dinos face the 76ers in the first pre-season game of 2009.
It's been a long time coming.
It feels like we hardly had a summer here in Toronto and the leaves are already turning. The specter of winter lingers in the background.
What’s the one positive of it being early October?
The pre-season starts tonight and we as a fan base can now officially forget all that was and wasn’t from last season. It really is out with the old and in with the new.
It also means introducing how we will be covering games here at the HQ for the upcoming season. In addition to our pre- and post-game routine we will also be opening live game threads for each game where everyone will be able to comment and discuss as things transpire on a live basis. I am sure it will take time for people to get accustomed to the open thread but hopefully over the course of the season it can become what it has become for many other SB Nation blogs....a home-base for fans watching the game from the comfort of their own home. If you are able, log-on to the site tonight and join the conversation.
To kick of the pre-season the Raps will be facing an Atlantic Division foe in the Philadelphia 76ers in a head-to-head back-to-back affair. It has not taken long for Reggie Evans and Jason Kapono to match-up against their former team-mates.
Speaking of Philadelphia the folks over at Liberty Ballers are forecasting a very successful season and predicting 48 wins. Could the 76ers end up ahead of the Raps when all is said and done this season?
In case you missed it yesterday, we are asking readers to give their prediction on how the Raps will finish in the win/loss column in the FanPost titled "Predicting the Outcome". Will the Raps really need more than 48 wins to secure a high-seed in the Atlantic Division, let alone the Eastern Conference?
It’s important not to put too much stock into pre-season games. By way of example, my St. Louis Rams looked more than competent this pre-season and yet now, when the games count, they can't even compete. They may finish much like the Lions did last year.
Whether the Raps win or lose in the pre-season is really secondary to the team’s ability to use the time to work on their offensive and defensive schemes and develop chemistry. Don’t forget that this will really be Triano’s first chance to implement his style of basketball without having to worry about a game every other night. It will also be Coach Triano’s first chance to try out all the new toys that Colangelo has provided him and work-out his rotation.
There are lots of questions to be answered this pre-season but right off the bat I will be looking at three things in particular:
1. Who starts at the SG/SF position? My thoughts on this have been clearly expressed over the course of the summer. In my opinion Antoine Wright should be the starting two-guard when the season kicks off. Unfortunately it looks like we won't get a true sense of whether Coach Triano agrees this evening as it is being reported that Wright won't be suiting up. Neither Turkoglu or Bosh look to be playing either so fans will be forced to watch a make-shift starting line-up which is disappointing. It has to be somewhat disappointing for the team as well as they try and get accustomed to one another on the court.
Over the course of the pre-season Triano may try out a few players in the starting line-up whether because of injury (Hedo/CB4) or simply to see what works and what doesn’t. Heading into the pre-season I wondered whether one of DeRozan, Wright, Belinelli or Jack would break away from the others to earn the starting nod at the two-guard, but if injuries are coming into play then it might not be such a contest after all.
Injuries playing a role early on isn't a good sign.
2. Will anyone (healthy) not play? It will be interesting to note when the game wraps up, whether any player who is suited up doesn’t get any PT. With up to four guys possibly wearing jeans and a blazer there are lots of minutes to be shared. Unless Triano needs to send a message early (hello Patrick O’Bryant and Marcus Banks) I would expect to see everyone on the court for at least a short period of time. Intra-squad games are all fine and good but in order to start determining who has really done what over the course of the summer there is no better test then having to match-up against a true "opponent". If you are a big Marcus Banks fan I would be tuning in...it may be one of just a few opportunities to see him play.
3. Big, Bigger, Biggest: As many questions as there are surrounding the shooting guard position, there are an equal number of questions relating to the big-man rotation after Bosh and Bargnani. Who out of Rasho, Evans, Johnson and O’Bryant will be the first big off the bench, or in tonight's match-up who will get the start? Many are hoping that Amir shines this pre-season and establishes a niche, but will this play out prior to the beginning of the regular season? The big man who brings the most in terms of defense, rebounding and tenacity should find himself a solid role on this team. Don’t count out the veteran, Rasho, early on.
Raptors ball is back.