With Chris Bosh, TJ Ford and Andrea Bargnani sitting this one out with injuries and Joey Graham leaving with the flu, it was none other than Kris Humphries and Uros Slokar helping to lead in crunch-time minutes during yesterday evening's 91 to 90 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. While Lebron James played only three quarters, it was an impressive win nonetheless with the Raptors coming from behind and rallying from 13 and eight point deficits and minus three key players.
Fred Jones was the Raptors' MVP pouring in 22 points, and adding three rebounds, three assists and three blocks to his totals. Jones scored in a variety of ways and had it not been for his offence, the Raptors, who shot a measely 38.5 percent from the field, wouldn't have been able to stay in the game. In fact, watching the Raptors' offence at times in the third quarter made me revisit my whole "missing Mike James" piece from this past summer. In that article I was saying that it was quite possible that Raptor fans would miss James' offence at times...and at times yesterday, that sure looked to be the case. Jorge Garbajosa, Anthony Parker and Morris Peterson were all either gun-shy or off the mark and if it wasn't for Cleveland's own poor offensive execution and defensive lapses, Toronto would have been out of this game early in the second quarter.
But maybe that's what was so interesting about this game.
The Cavs starters?
Lebron James, Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Ilgauskas played only 11 minutes, but the other four all played at least 20 minutes with James and Hughes both topping out over the 30 minute mark.
The starters for Toronto? Jose Calderon, Morris Peterson, Anthony Parker, Kris Humphries and Rasho Nesterovic and as mentioned, it was the likes of Slokar, Jones and even PJ Tucker who helped secure the win. No folks, the Cavs didn't roll over and die in this one - Cavs' coach Mike Brown unfolded the rest of his rotation the way he would during the regular season with Anderson Varejao, Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones, and David Wesley all playing significant minutes - and this game truly showcased the remarkable depth of this new version of the Raptors.
But even with the win to keep the unbeaten pre-season streak alive, this game also confirmed my worst fear. Chris Bosh indeed does have plantar fasciitis, something that very well could linger for the entire season. We've seen the dreaded PF in the past affect the likes of Tim Duncan and Jason Kidd and it's an injury that simply does not go away without sufficient rest. Will Bosh get that rest? Mitchell will be cautious with him until the regular season tips off but I'm wondering how sharp Bosh will be as he really hasn't played anything near "real-game" minutes so far this pre-season.
And the other injuries? Well Ford's hamstring issues sound precautionary but it makes giving him a critical review based on yesterday's game null and void. Bargnani's ankle has been listed as day-to-day.
In yesterday's preview on our site I was curious to see how TJ played but was also highlighting two other areas.
Anthony Parker - Parker once again didn't stand out. His defense was fairly solid, but he's obviously still not comfortable in the Raps offence. One play epitomized this. After a crisp pass at the top of the key from Calderon, Parker caught the ball and had an open shot. Instead, he passed on the shot, ball-faked, and drove straight into his man getting called for the offensive foul. Hopefully the final two preseaon games will give us a better showing.
The Inside Game - Without Bosh and up against a large Cavs front-court, the Raps were outgunned inside losing the "points in the paint" and rebounding battles. The scary part of this from my perspective was that the Big Z didn't play a minute in the third quarter and it was Anderson Varejao who did the most damage with 13 points and two blocks in only 23 minutes.
Toronto needs a healthy Bosh if they want to win these type of games come regular season...no matter how deep this new bench is.