3 in the Key: Raptors' Game-Day Preview vs. the Celtics

The Raptors fresh off a trade play short-handed against the powerful Celtics this afternoon at the ACC.  The HQ talks about today's match but more importantly, summarizes the trade...

Is there any point in having a big "3 in the key" breakdown session for this afternoon's match?

Well, considering the Toronto Raptors have had major trouble with the Boston Celtics for the past few years at the best of times, thanks to yesterday's trade, which will be leaving the team even more short on talent, this one looks like a pretty certain Toronto L.

Awww yes, the trade.

Everyone have a chance to digest things now?

After spending the bulk of yesterday mulling it over, for me this one comes down to two things:

-What Colangelo does with Peja's expiring deal

-Can Jerryd Bayless blossom here in Toronto and be a piece for the future

That's it.

In the short term (as in right now), the move certainly hurts the Raptors as they give up the best current player of any of the personnel who were exchanged.  Bayless in many ways is a similar player to Jack, but even less of a point-guard and still a blip on the NBA radar.

And Peja, well, as Kelly Dwyer points out here, aside from one recent game against the Mavericks, he's been pretty terrible.  Much like the David Andersen acquisition, if Colangelo can use Peja's deal to bring in a true stud for the future then this "step 1" of perhaps 2 or 3 will be terrific.

If not, then it falls on Jerryd and how he develops.

And despite Bayless' athleticism and "potential," it's hard to see him being the answer for Toronto at either guard position.

However as the above, or any of the various Youtube Bayless mixes show, the kid's got talent, no question about it.

And while I think we may see the Raptors use him as a starter over Jose at some point, it's not necessarily something I'd advocate considering he's hardly a facilitator, and on top of that has shot under 40% from the field so far in his NBA career.

Potential?

Yes...

...but as we've discussed many a time on the site, by your third year in the league, as a guard, you pretty much are what you are.  I've watched Bayless up close tearing through the competition in Vegas and he looks pretty good doing it.  But he's truly the definition of a "tweener" between the 1 and 2 and while that's not so evident in the loosely orchestrated Summer League, in the NBA, he hasn't been a good enough facilitator or efficient enough scorer to hold down the point guard spot.

Ironically the player he reminds me of the most is probably Marcus Banks.

Not the towel-waving, never playing Banks of the past few years, but the Banks fresh out of UNLV, the one who as well tore up the Summer League and who faced the same issues position-wise, despite outstanding physical attributes.

Now maybe Bayless will surprise and find himself a nice niche here in Toronto.

But for today's game, that doesn't change a thing since neither he or Peja will reportedly be in the line-up against Boston.

Which brings us back to the starting point.

So instead of 3 keys, let's go with 3 things I'm hoping to see from Toronto today.  In order they would be:

1)  A third straight dominant game for Andrea Bargnani

2)  Continued opportunities for DeRozan and Weems

3)  Some burn for Joey Dorsey and Julian Wright

Hopefully we'll see a short-handed Raptors fight the Celtics tooth-and-nail resulting in a solid match.

But even if this one becomes a blowout for the C's early, it'll be hard to be too disappointed.

After all, Colangelo's latest move has essentially waived the white flag in the short term and if the goal is to further enhance the Raptors' chances at a top pick, getting beat by the Celtics is simply another step in the right direction.

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