Every Sunday here at RaptorsHQ we will be looking to the week ahead for the Toronto Raptors and giving some thoughts as to the matchups for the week ahead. This week we are looking at three home games, against the Cavs, Jazz and Sonics. Let's make like Rage Against the Machine and "break it down":
Monday, November 7 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers on Rogers Sportsnet.
Danny Ferry has been active to last the least since his arrival as Cavs GM and this team on paper looks good, in particular their front court. Here comes the Big Z, Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao, and two former Raptors Donyell Marshall, and Zendon Hamilton. This is going to be one of those nights where the pressure lies squarely on the shoulders of the Raps front court, not to put up large numbers, but to prevent the other team from doing so.
I think the key match-up is not however the C spot, it is the PF spot, in particular when DMarsh enters the game. We have all witnessed his ability to stroke the three and as a result stretch the D. Having Bosh defend on the perimeter is only going to open up the lane for some guy named Lebron and give the Big Z room to manouver.
One thing we don't have to worry about is production from their PG's. Eric Snow would probably be better at directing traffic than an offence and all you need to do to stop Damon Jones is tell him it is the Eastern Conference Finals.
One thing is for sure, Joey G is getting a harsh intro to the NBA early on. Matching up against guys like Jamison, RJ, and Lebron in the first week can't be fun. I get the feeling we might have a moment this year where at half-time Joey is so tired from defending the games best players that he and his brother make the quick uni for street clothes swap....I mean uni for jacket and tie swap.
Friday, November 11 vs. Utah Jazz, on the Score
Time to make-up for that opening pre-season OT loss. Everyone has gotten onto the Bucks bandwagon pretty quick, but keep an eye on this Utah team, they can surprise. The first thing to watch is how many times Greg Ostertag has a mid-game snack. You just have to wonder if guys like him, Eddy Curry, Tractor Traylor etc. have a travelling all you can eat buffet accompany them to away games.
This is a game the Raps can win but a lot of it will ride on the second unit, in particular Calderon when Deron Williams checks into the game. In the pre-season Deron abused Jose with his combination of bulk and quickness. Jerry Sloan has got to love this guy. This is the match-up will be watching all night, and who knows if Jose can't do the job we may get an Alvin sighting. The Raps have a good few days off at home before this Friday night tilt, I expect high energy, in particular on the defensive end, but of course now they will probably come out sluggish.
What do you think the over/under would be on the number of charges this game. Milt alone is good for 2.
Does anyone else not think it is a little odd that a team from Utah has a star player with a nickname of an assault riffle? Washington needs to change their name back to the Bullets and get this guy in D.C.
Sunday, November 13 vs. Seattle Sonic on RapsTV
Right before the Raps have a home and home with the 76ers they face Jesus Shuttleworth and the Sonics. The fact that they have a guy named "Petro" coming to "Canada" is humour in itself. I don't think anyone really knows what to expect from this squad but they can rebound with the best of them. This may however be one of the few match-ups where I like our front-court's chances. Bosh and CV Smooth need to use their quicks to beat guys like Fortson and Collison and continuously take it to the hole. Give the rock to these guys and let them get their stiffs in foul trouble.
I never thought I would say this but the most important player on that team is Luke Ridnour. Losing Antonio Daniels was huge for them, have you seen who their back-ups are? Rick Brunson and everyone's favorite cheerleader, Mateen Cleaves. How is this guy still employed in the NBA? In all honesty though, he has got to feel like a complete fraud when he hits the town and tells ladies he's an NBA Baller. Doesn't being an NBA player require playing? I seriously think the Sonics should actually play him to see if he can actually dribble a basketball, not run the offence, not shoot, simply dribble. The fact that he won an NCAA title is great, but does it become some sort of right of passage to the NBA and the ability to collect paychecks for nothing?
Oh and Hoffa vs. Fortson would probably gather more viewers if it was a UFC Battle rather than an NBA match-up.
2-1 in the ACC.