Tonight's game against the Houston Rockets continues a big week for the Raptors' Joey Graham. Graham faces off against his twin brother tonight who was dominant in the CBA an thus signed by the Houston Rockets to aid their disappointing club.
The Rockets, with Tracy McGrady back, had appeared to have turned the corner but will now be without Yao Ming. Ming is facing surgery on his toe and now will be out several weeks. The Raptors have injury concerns of their own as chances are that neither Charlie Vilanueva or Jose Calderon will be in the Raptors' lineup tonight.
In the absense of the two rookies it will therefore be imperative for the Raptors to get another solid game from their veterans like Jalen Rose. Rose was a key factor in Monday night's win and his play off the bench or as a starter tonight will go a long way in determining the outcome of tonight's contest. And as discussed yesterday on our site, it will be interesting to see what happends with Jalen and co.'s playing time when Calderon and CV Smooth return from injury. Oh, and it will be equally interesting to see if tomorrow's Doug Smith article for the Toronto Star is as similar to our site as some of his recent articles have been...
Win or lose tonight it looks like the Raptors' coaching staff and management is safe for now. While Larry Tanenbaum offered an apology to the fans considering the Raptors' performance this year, it looks like Maple Leafs Sports is going to stay the course.
As an aside, I'm not sure the point of articles such as these. The Toronto Media seems hell bent once again, after a month of quiet, on publishing articles on why Mitchell and Babcock should be fired. In fact the Fan 590's televised radio show on Monday night was almost entirely concerning this topic which makes no sense. The Raptors have played much better in their past few games then they did earlier in the season and really Babcock, since the offseason, has done a great job for this club. Babcock inherited a mess of a situation and I'm not sure how firing him and/or Mitchell solves anything. The team just doesn't have the talent and leadership to be an elite club in its present form and changing the coach or GM in mid-season won't help. If anything, it could just prove to the current players on the club that not even the club's owners believe in this squad long term...which wouldn't be much of a motivational tool for the team.
ESPN.com sure doesn't believe in the club. The Raptors after a tough week have sunk back to last place on the online Power Rankings.
However the Raptor rookies continue to rise in the NBA.com Rookie Rankings. The Raptors' young trio sat down with NBA.com for a rountable discussion and discussed everything from their favourite players to how they've been able to practice their Spanish language skills.
Tonight's game vs. The Houston Rockets marks the first match-up for Mike James against his former team. It will be imperative for him however to play within the system and not try to do too much to show up his former squad. With Yao Ming out Dikembe Mutumbo will be using his 54 year old body to try and stop the Raptors downlow and therefore the Raptors' priority should be to feed Chris Bosh all night long. Even with Stromile Swift and Juan Howard, Bosh should have his way and Rafael Araujo might be effective in matching up physically with Mount Mutumbo. Morris Peterson and Joey Graham will have the unenviable tasks of guarding Tracy McGrady but even if T-Mac gets his 30 points, the Raptors will have to limit the rest of the Rockets' offense. If they can successfully do this, the game is theirs for the taking without the 7 foot Ming to be concerned about. In addition, great bench play from Jalen and whoever else Mitchell puts in (possibly Eric Williams) will be important in the absence of CV Smooth and Calderon. This is especially true at the point where in all likelyhood Darrick Martin will be asked to play extended minutes once again.