Last night's match-up was the first of a brutal stretch of games where the Raptors will play 7 of the next 8 away from the ACC. The team came away with a big win in the Big Easy led by CB4...and a barrage of three point makes.
That's what you call firing on all cylinders.
The Raptors easily played their best game of the season with a 107-90 win, and what a performance it was.
There is a lot to talk about in this recap, but I have to start out with the play of Chris Bosh.
Much like last season CB4 is on a tear early on and last night he was the most dominant player on the court...including Chris Paul. Bosh was an offensive freak last night absolutely dominating his match-up against Emeka Okafor. If you didn't get to see the game last night I highly advise you check out the highlights on a sports broadcast because his performance was nothing short of spectacular.
Actually the better adjective to describe his game last night would be "perfection". Bosh was perfect from the floor (9-9), made his one shot from beyond the arc and once again got to the line more than 10 times. The highlight of the night was easily the 14 foot fade-away he made over Okafor. That shot was simply awesome.
Perhaps the most important part of Bosh's offensive outburst was that it came when the team needed it the most. After a sloppy first quarter the Raps needed a pick-me up in the second quarter and CB4 obliged. Bosh did just enough to ensure the Raps didn't fall to far behind when Paul started to dominate in the second quarter. This set the table for what can only be described as as offensive explosion in the third quarter.
In the third quarter the Raps absolutely took-over and collectively just caught fire on the offensive end. For a period of time it was like the Raps couldn't miss, in particular from beyond the arc where the Dino's hit 14 threes. Hedo, Bargnani, Calderon and Jack all got in on the action and before you knew it the Raps had outscore the Hornets 34-14 in the quarter.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around this game was all but done.
Perhaps the highlight for Raps fans was last night was the first game where Jose Calderon looked like the Jose Calderon we have all come to know and expect. Jose, at least on this evening, managed to find not only his jumper but his game on a whole. The Spanish fly looked uber confident on the floor, dished out eight assists and even managed to talk some trash in the process. His performance so far this season has been underwhelming, but last night it looked like he was getting back on track..
If Calderon can get back on track this team can be deadly on the offensive end. All five of the Raps starters have the ability to spread the floor and when working as a unit they can cause opposing defenses fits. Last night being example 1A.
Even with all of this talk surrounding the offense, it wouldn't be right not to mention the D. Players like Amir Johnson and Antonie Wright were constantly getting into the passing lanes and each and every Raptors did a good job with their defensive rotations. It wasn't perfect (the Hornets still shot 48% from the floor) but there were some positive signs.
Of course it is not like the Raps faced an offensive juggernaut.
What can you say about this New Orleans team? Talk about a fall from grace. After being one of the best teams in the Western Conference the past few years, early signs would tell you that the Hornets don't even make the playoffs this season.
Outside of Chris Paul and David West this team has about as much firepower as the Icelandic military. Morris Peterson has no business starting and he along with James Posey and Peja Stojakovic bring little to the table as they each enter the twilight of their careers. If it wasn't for Paul's 21 points and 18 assists this would have been a 30 point blowout.
What about Emeka Okafor you ask? Well right now he just isn't giving this team what it needs. He looks slow and clearly is still trying to develop some chemistry with Paul having missed all of the preseason. Dare I say this team misses Tyson Chandler?
All in all last night the Raps played really well and it's game like this one that give you high hopes for the season. Colangelo must have loved last night's performance. I have to believe that this is exactly the type of game he expected when he added Hedo to the mix. There's not a single team in the league that could have stopped the Raps in the third quarter of last night's game.
Now on to Dallas to face a team with similar offensive firepower. Much like CB4, Dirk Nowitzki has started out the season strong and is getting some solid support from the guys around him including Jason Terry and former Raptor Shawn Marion. It's going to be a stiff test for the Raps.
And here are the three key's to tonight's match-up:
1. Energy: Although this is the second game of a back-to-back the Raps have to dig deep and bring energy into tonight's contest. Working in the Raps favor is that as a result of last night's blow-out the starters didn't have to log heavy minutes. I will be looking for Coach Triano to use his bench early and often to help ensure the team maintain's a high energy level. No energy = no chance.
2. Bargnani: Believe it or not but in the past two games Andrea has not been a one trick pony. Bargs has also been answering the call by putting up commendable rebounding numbers. Last night he was one rebound shy of having back to back double doubles. These sorts of efforts on the glass have to continue, in particular on the road. Bargs will be primarily matched-up against the likes of Erik Dampier and Dirk Nowitzki and he can't be hesitant to mix-it up with the big boys. If he can hold his own on the glass and reduce the number of second chance opportunities for the Mavs this will go a long way towards increasing the likelihood of a W.
3. Bench Play: The Mavericks are one of the teams in the league who also have a solid bench and as a result the Raps won't be heading into this game with an obvious advantage in this department. Barea and Terry are both spark plugs who can change the face of a game with their instant offence and believe it or not but Kris Humphries has actually played pretty well for the Mavs. Having seen the Mavs play a few times already this year Humphries clearly worked on his body over the course of the summer and he is not trying to do too much. Amir, Jack and Belinelli will need to match these guys every step of the way.
I do believe the Raps can win this game. Don't forget the Mavs lost to the Hornets on Wednesday. The same Hornets squad the Raptors just manhandled.
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