So far this pre-season Raptors' fans have really seen all that Toronto has to offer. Garbajosa, Humphries, Tucker...even Slokar. All have had a chance to see action and as we've previously discussed, Sam Mitchell's got some tough decisions ahead.
These decisions may start today.
With only three pre-season games remaining, expect to see Mitchell begin to trim his bench provided the game doesn't turn into a blowout. On the Cleveland side, expect to see less of Stephen Graham, and more of the likes of Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Donyell Marshall. It sounds like Lebron James and possibly Chris Bosh won't be playing this evening and yes this is still pre-season...but there are a few things we'll be watching in today's game:
1) TJ Ford's Play: So far this pre-season TJ hasn't blown anyone away on or off the court. In fact Jose Calderon has looked like more of starter than Ford and for a player in the midst of trying to sign a contract extension, Ford is going to need to start showing fans just why the Raptors traded CV Smooth for him. A friend of mine, and our University's former point guard brought up an interesting point concerning Ford however. People tend to forget that Ford played in a much more stand-still system last year in Milwaukee and is probably still getting used to playing in Mitchell's run-and-gun system. In addition, my friend was reminding me that playing with an entirely new group of players, it will take Ford some time to learn where teammates like to catch the ball, especially in this type of high-octane offense. No that doesn't excuse any shooting woes...but the point is that it probably will take more than five pre-season games to really see what Ford can do.
2) Anthony Parker: Parker is one of the few players who really hasn't jumped out at us so far this pre-season. Not that he's been bad...but we're just curious to see what he can do in more extensive minutes...especially on the defensive end. Today facing up against Lebron James if he plays or even Larry Hughes, should provide just such an opportunity. In all likelyhood it will be Parker and Mo Pete who get the Lebron and Hughes shadowing assignments and it may give fans their first glimpses of how much the perimeter D has improved.
3) The Inside Game: One thing which hasn't been discussed much in terms of the team's depth...is where Pape Sow fits in when he returns from injury. No word as to when that should be but in an already over-crowded rotation, Spider-man Sow will be behind the 8-ball. In this evening's match, the Cavaliers will look to use some of their big bodies up front in Drew Gooden, Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao to bang the Raptors down low. Sow's athletic ability would be a welcome help if he were healthy and Nesterovic, Garbajosa, Humphries and even Bargnani will need to fill the void if Bosh is out.
We'll take a look at how these matchups fared in tomorrow's Tip-In.
In closing, over at Hoops Addict.com, part two of our podcast...