clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 In The Key - Toronto Raptors Game Day Preview vs. New Orleans

In a rematch where Chris Paul will play the team that injured him, the Raptors will face one of the league's most dynamic point guards.  Of course, Mo Pete will be the talk of the town as Vicious D takes a look at the Hornets.

This is all Morris Peterson's fault.

Well, not really, but let's look at how Mo Pete left.

Back in the wonderous 2006-2007 season, the Raptors decided to start benching Mo Pete after years of loyal service.  The Raptors had a new guy in Jorge Garbajosa who was a tough Spaniard who wasn't going to take guff from anyone.  He was going to be our defensive stopper who just played hard in every game and who could defend bigger people while using his crafty mind to take out the smaller small forwards in the league.  Mo Pete was benched and his minutes severely reduced.  When Garbajosa went down with his Raptors Career-ending injury, the team picked Joey Graham to start over Mo Pete.

Thus ended Mo Pete's career in Toronto.

Getting snubbed once for a veteran player like Garbajosa was nothing to be ashamed about, but getting snubbed for the likes of Joey Graham was probably the straw that broke the camel's back.  Since then, we have been without any real stoppers at the small forward position in Toronto.  And yes, that includes the recently end-of-bencher Antoine Wright.

But good news:

Mo Pete is back in Toronto. 

With the Hornets. 

Doing not much of anything.

As part of their 15 years anniversary, the Raptors will be celebrating Mo Pete's service to the Raptors and the Raptors' community.  Without a doubt, Peterson was a man who just got to become Mr. Raptor by being a subtle part of some very good teams.  He was the Ironman of the Raptors and gave us some very important years with some good defense, some better shooting, and some miraculous plays. 

He'll be a Raptor whom I'll definitely stand up and applaud from my condo.

Up next though, the Raptors still have a game to play and against the New Orleans Hornets, they will have it out a lot tougher than the Nets.  That's why today's game will be a much better measuring stick for this Raptors team:

1) Protect Your "Glass Jaw"
The Raptors are simply bad when they have to do anything tough, but more than that, it seems as though whenever teams start trading baskets with the Raptors, they will fold.  In boxing, a glass jaw boxer is a guy with a weak chin who will go down for the count whenever their opposition tags them on the chin.  With these Raptors, their "chin" seems to be their paint and the Raptors get hit there way too often.  It all eventually changes the game to their opposition's favour.  It happened in the Nets game, albeit only in the second half after they built a sizable lead, and it's happened in just about every game where they've been blown out.  We're going to keep mentioning it until the Raptors change their ways, but the fact is, this team's best defensive unit is probably Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Sonny Weems, Chris Bosh, and Amir Johnson

That's four bench players with Chris Bosh. With Chris Paul almost dropping a triple double the last game against the Nuggets, the Raptors have to keep protecting their paint otherwise this game will get ugly real quick.

2) Stick and Jab
The Raptors on the other hand, have to keep going inside against the Hornets.  New Orleans just doesn't have a very strong front court despite having one of the most overrated centers in the league in Emeka Okafor.  Chris Paul as well, has a propensity to being exposed by opposing point guards, so the Raptors should keep slashing and slashing in the paint like there's no tomorrow.  Attacking them with two points here and there will keep New Orleans on their toes until you find yourself for open threes.  Which leads us to...

3) Power Punches
The Raptors have not been shooting the 3-pointer very well lately.  However, a lot of that has to do with who is taking those threes. DeMar DeRozan, Antoine Wright, and the recently cold Italian Duo are all people that should be careful about shooting too many threes.  But if the Raptors start by hitting the Hornets with lots of jabs, they'll expose them for open looks on the perimeter.  The Raptors are a team that needs those open looks and they'll have to stick them as it's a major part of what makes the Raptors a dangerous offensive team.  It's how the Raptors pulled out a win in New Orleans earlier this year after all. However it's all got to start from the inside out.  The best boxers establish themselves with their jab and then unleashes hooks and uppercuts when need be.  The Raptors will need to do the same.