Raps are on a roll and now face the 76ers as they continue their assent in the Eastern Conference standings.
Can the Raps make it three in a row before the rematch with Boston?
Well even when things are going well there is still much to debate.
The hot topic these days? Calderon vs. Jack.
I actually find it a little comical that this has become a point of contention. It wasn't that long ago that a good percentage of Raptors fans were questioning the Jack signing and looking to throw him under a bus.
Now? It looks like there is a good contingent of fans looking for Jack to start permanently.
My how quickly things have changed.
This debate confirms that a lot can change over the course of an NBA season. Players have their ups and downs and many fans, including myself, can be a little impatient at times.
The real issue for me however, is playing Jack and Calderon together. To me it just doesn't make much sense. When these guys play together you are asking one of them to defend the oppositions shooting guard, which is in most cases a difficult task. The league is rife with excellent shooting guards, including Kobe, Allen, Carter, Roy, etc. Second, neither Jack nor Calderon have the offensive skill sets to play the position effectively. If you wondered why the Raps had trouble getting open looks down the stretch against Orlando start here.
Now having two decent point guards is nice. They should both get substantial minutes, just not together. I will be the first to admit that the two guard position is one of weakness for this squad (at this point in time) but Triano will hopefully show more faith in Belinelli and DeRozan as the season wears on.
Everything else in Raptors nation right now is coming up roses, which is not the case in Philadelphia.
What a mess. If you are looking to pin-point a team with no sense of direction this is it. Elton Brand has been a major disappointment, the Allen Iverson signing stunk of desperation and slowly it is becoming known to the rest of the league that although Andre Iguodala is a great player, he is not a franchise players.
To get the latest on the 76ers we reached out to Liberty Ballers to get their take for this weeks Blogging With the Enemy:
RHQ: There always seems to be some sort of news coming out of Philadelphia these days and now there is trade talk. From our perspective this looks like a team just treading water. What is the direction of this franchise right now? If you were in charge what would go down?
The Sixers have no direction. They've been mediocre since the championship run in '01 and they will continue to be mediocre for the remainder of Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala's contracts. No team is going to win a championship with Brand and Iguodala as their best players and that's exactly what the Sixers are looking at for the next half a decade. If I were in charge I'd conduct a complete fire sale with Jrue Holiday as the only untouchable. I'd fire Eddie Jordan immediately. And I'd give myself the best chance to win the John Wall sweepstakes.
RHQ: What impact, if any, has the return of AI had for the 76ers? Was this a smart move? What is the best case scenario here?
It was a terrible move to begin with and a completely desperate ploy to generate fan interest. Ticket sales were up for a total of 1 game, but returned to league-low after A.I.'s return. From a basketball standpoint this move accomplished nothing more than stunt the development of the young guards and give the rest of the team a terrible "role model". There is no best case scenario here.
RHQ: What the keys to a 76ers win against the Raps?
They have to shoot at least 50% from the floor because they're going to give up a ton of points.
Things are not looking bright in the City of Brotherly Love right now.
The Raps need to keep the good times rolling. Here are tonight's three keys.
1. Protect the Paint: If the Raps really do have to keep the 76ers from shooting 50% from the floor they have to defend the paint. Philadelphia, despite the poor record, does have some talent on the blocks and an up and coming big man in Marreese Speights. Hopefully Bargs can continue his solid man-to-man defense and force the 76ers to start bombing from the outside (contested of course).
2. Get On Them Early: Best way to beat a team that is struggling? Get up on them early. Make them feel like this will be just another loss. The Raps need to come out with good energy. Worst case scenario is the Raps rest on their laurels after beating Orlando. This is a trap game for the Raps.
3. Get Production From the 2: You had to love what DeRozan did against Orlando in the first half and when the Raps get production from the rook things usually work out in the Raps favour. DD needs to be aggressive on the offensive end and prevent any defensive lapses that will get him the hook.