Leandro Barbosa and the rest of the Raptors bench will have to play big if they are going to have any chance at stopping the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies. Mandatory Credit: Tyler Kaufman-US PRESSWIRE
The Toronto Raptors have won 2 out of their last 3 games and are coming off of a convincing victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday evening. Tonight the Dinos will return home to take on the recently hot Memphis Grizzlies in a match-up that should present some challenges for the hometown Raptors. How will the Raps stop the red-hot Grizzlies? the HQ has the answers in our three keys to the game.
Spirits should be high for the Toronto Raptors tonight as they return home to take on the Memphis Grizzlies following their solid team win over the Hornets on Wednesday evening. This will be the first of two meetings with Memphis this season for the Raptors, with the other coming on March 16th back in Memphis.
The Grizzlies are having a great season despite suffering some setbacks due to injury early on in the season. The Grizzlies will enter play tonight sitting 7th in the Western Conference and have won 8 of their last 10 games which has them looking primed to make a run in the second half of the season.
The Raptors on the other hand, have obviously struggled this season and are the 5th worst team in the league as it currently stands. Despite their season long struggles, the Raptors have actually won 2 of their last 3 games, and could have easily taken another in Houston on Tuesday.
There is no doubt that the Raptors will have their hands full with Grizzlies tonight, and if they are going to come away with the victory in this contest they are going to have to pay attention to these three keys to the game:
1) The Bench Brigade: The Raptors bench was key in their win over New Orleans and has been effective all season long. The Grizzlies have a great starting line-up, however their bench is a little thin and this is where the Dinos are going to have to take advantage. Players like Linas Kleiza, Leandro Barbosa, and Ed Davis, who were all crucial for the Raptors in New Orleans, are going to have to be key contributors tonight if Toronto is going to come away with the victory.
2) Defend the Paint: Coming into this game Memphis is averaging 45.5 points per game in the paint which is good for third in the NBA; this is particularly impressive considering most of these point have come without All-Star forward Zach Randolph who has missed the last 30 games with a partially torn right MCL.
Central to Memphis' attack in the paint is another All-Star in center Marc Gasol who is having a career year across the board. Following his first All-Star appearance on Sunday, Gasol had a big game against the Mavericks, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and will be looking to have another big game against the Raptor front line sans Andrea Bargnani. In order for the Raptors to stop Gasol they will need to match his size in the post with guys like Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire, but may also need the assistance of Amir Johnson and Ed Davis to handle Gasol in the high post. If the Dinos are going to be successful in shutting down Gasol, and hopefully the Grizzlies' attack in the paint, then they are going to have to mix up their defense and give Gasol different looks throughout the night.
3) Take Advantage of the Home Court: Entering tonight's match-up the Toronto Raptors are just 5-11 at home and have struggled to get the job done at the ACC this season. With the first half of the season officially over, it is time for the Dinos to put those struggles behind them and come out with some better energy and effort for the home crowd, starting with this game tonight against the Grizz. Hopefully for the Dinos, the ACC will be much friendly confines during the second half of the season.