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3 In the Key – Toronto Raptors Game Day Preview vs. Denver

The RHQ hopes everyone drinks responsibly tonight...whether celebrating, or lamenting a 30 points loss to Denver...

The RHQ hopes everyone drinks responsibly tonight...whether celebrating, or lamenting a 30 points loss to Denver...

There are several things that you'll see me rarely, if ever, do on Raptors HQ.

One, is talk about college ball.

It's just something that I don't really understand, never have time for, and can never get used to due to the constantly changing players. Which as a corollary, makes me really boring to talk to about drafting each year.

The other no-no is to do trade speculation.

No, that doesn't mean I won't evaluate potential trade scenarios or give my two cents on trades that have gone through, but as a general policy, I just don't believe that I can speculate accurately about what most GMs are thinking.

That goes double for one like Bryan Colangelo.

I know what the Raptors as a team need and just how it affects the team's playing ability, but at the end of the day, I don't think I can grasp the convoluted scheme that is going to get us an athletic rebounding wing player in exchange for our roster. And hell, sometimes the trades I see people put together just make me shake my head.

Maybe if we get some GMs loaded up on some Don Perignon today, we'll get that trade we desperately need.

I can see it now...

"Hello this is Bryan Colangelo, wishing you a ------"

"Bryan? BRYAN! Ish me, Kev! Howzit goin'?"

"Well, I wanted to wish you a happy new year, and I was wondering if I could interest you in a trade. You see you have all these great athletes in Port----"

"Yah! Yaaaaah! Bry, my team iz soooooo good."

"So I was wondering if you could use some veterans. I mean Jason Kapono has a championship ring!"

"Yeaaaah! I seen it. Ish as big az yer head Bryan. And your head ish massive. Witall the thinkin' it does."

"So yeah, I was wondering if I could take a Spaniard or a Frenchman off of you."

"Sure, sure. Anything for you Bry. Cause we GMs... We're like brothers! And I always love to help my brothers. I loooove my brothers!"

"Thanks Kevin. It sounds like we have a deal."

"Yah Bry. I want to hear you say it though."

"Say what?"

"Say you love me. You loooooove me."

"..... I love you too Kevin."

Yeah. That's not gonna work.

In any case, for our final game of 2008, we have the lovely Denver Nuggets in town. Yes, these extremely good group of players from Denver have been tearing it up from sea to shining sea thanks to the acquisition of their star point guard, Chauncy Billups. In what could only be called one of the best decisions in Nugget history, Denver managed to trade away a high volume, low percentage shooter for a playmaker who pays attention to team defense. And lest we forget, it was a game in Denver that finally put the nail in the coffin for Sam Mitchell.

So how do we make sure the Raptors close out 2008 like they haven't been able to close out quarters? Pretty simple:

1) Avenge my Death -

And by death, I mean Sam Mitchell's Raptors' coaching career, because come on, the guy will be back. But there should be ample motiviation for a guy like Chris Bosh to put up career numbers. Or hey, maybe Jermaine O'Neal will feel a lot of that pride he's shown in his craft and lay it on a guy like Nene, especially since he's recovering from a stiff neck. How ever they show it, the Raptors need to come out with sustained energy, and they should have the proper motivation to do so. After all, no matter what the Raptors say, it was partially their own fault for laying such a poor performance up in the Mile High city, so they have plenty of reason to come out and show that they aren't the team we saw a month ago.

Oh yeah, George Karl seems to be gunning for his 900th win as a coach. I mean, do the Raptors really want to be another statistical factor on the losing side of yet another legend?

No, didn't think so.

2) Keep Kenyon Out of the Game -

Know who was the top scorer in Denver's loss against Atlanta the other day? It was none other than K-Mart. Going 8 for 13 for the night, Kenyon managed to put in 19 points. As the second option behind Carmelo Anthony, the Raptors need to make sure that Kenyon Martin doesn't go off for a monster game. They especially have to make sure he doesn't get on the glass all that often, so it'll be up to Joey Graham, or our big three to put appropriate bodies on him. Boxing out Kenyon properly will greatly increase the chances that the Raptors rebound competitively against the Nuggets.

3) Win One at Home -

I'm frankly sick and tired of people saying that Torontonians need to cheer for the Raptors no matter how lowsy the score can be. I'm sorry, but as a fan, it's not up to us to establish a home court advantage for every single play of every single game. And Toronto fans are not stupid either. They do know when the team is losing momentum, and when our wings just aren't contributing the way we need them to. Some might say that makes us poor fans, but I personally think it's because we do not simply give undying love simply because it's our team. We don't even give the Leafs that undying love anymore.

So here's the thing. Give us effort, and hustle, and if you lose, we'll still be behind you 1000 per cent. That's the nature of Toronto fans. Why do you think we loved Matt Bonner so much? Because he smacked the living hell out of Kevin Garnett.

And heck, if they do that, we'll start to have that home court advantage energy that Chris Bosh desperately needs. So it's about time for us to win one at home. It sure has been a while.

In the end, 2008 is a year that we need to severely and permanently close. A failed playoff run, along with a complete second half melt-down, followed by a fairly horrible beginning to a season full of new expectations, and a TV schedule that has left many of the fans angry as hell, and that has left a pretty bitter end to the year that was.

But 2009 looks to offer us a glimmer of hope.

A slight ease on the schedule after this next up coming week, and the Raptors may be able to put together a win streak where the surprise some top tier teams.

Here at the HQ, we thank all of you for making 2008 another banner year for us. We made it because of you our readers and commentators. To all of you, we raise a glass of champagne and hope you celebrate 2008 responsibly and come back home safely to us for brand new year!

Vicious D