The Toronto Raptors continue to move forward after the NBA trade deadline, facing an excellent Memphis Grizzlies team tonight. The HQ's Sasha Kalra examines what they need to do to leave Tennessee with a W.
Normal service resumes again tonight as the Raptors look to bounce back from their ugly loss against the Nets. Gerald Green had a field day on Wednesday and playing similar defense tonight would be suicidal.
The Grizzlies have managed to remain in playoff contention in the Western Conference this year despite some pretty serious injury woes. Zach Randolph is a long-term absentee and the team has been without Rudy Gay for a week now as he is listed as day-to-day. They managed to take the Lakers to double overtime in their last game and are a match for anybody on their home court.
Their surprising playoff run last year wasn't a flash in the pan and they have built on that run by playing even better basketball this year. Lionel Hollins has done a terrific job in Memphis and he has to be a contender for Coach of the Year alongside the likes of Doug Collins and Scott Brooks.
Here are 3 things the Dinos need to make happen to get a win tonight:
1) Offensive Execution: The Memphis Grizzlies aren't an elite defensive team but Hollins has them playing great team defense this season. The Raptors have had, at times, a certain difficulty with scoring the basketball. Those woes are likely to get worse with Barbosa's departure, as he was a source of instant offense off the bench. You aren't going to beat many teams on the road without executing well with the basketball. Taking advantage of turnovers, second chance points and getting into an offensive rhythm will be crucial.
2) "Star" Players: The duo that are currently touted as being the team's "star" or "go-to" guys didn't play so well against the Nets and need to give a better account of themselves. Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan shot 9 for 28 on Wednesday and were comprehensively outplayed by the other dynamic duo of Gerald Green and Kris Humphries. Add that sentence to the list of things you never thought you would hear.
3) Inside Play: Rumours are circulating that Zach Randolph will make his comeback sometime this weekend, yet even without his presence the Grizzlies are a formidable team in the paint. Marc Gasol is having a career year and Aaron Gray might be the only player on the team that can match his size down low. Mareese Speights has the ability to hurt the Raptors with his mid-range game and he has a history of outplaying Bargnani as a 76er. Winning the battle in the paint, rebounding and contesting shots will go a long way in determining the victor.