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3 in the Key - Game-Day Preview vs The Cavaliers

The Raptors face the Raptors? In what seems like a bizarre turn of events, the Raptors face a Cleveland team sporting more than a little chunk of the Raptors 2008 roster.  Vicious D previews tonight's game and talks a little bit about Bosh's villainous turn.

A quick digression.

Did you catch Chris Bosh's comments which The Star's Dave Feschuck turned into a piece yesterday?

To me, it's always been interesting to see Bosh implode his own good guy image upon itself.  Over the course of his time in Toronto, he's always been a very down-to-earth, hard-working individual.  Heck, it's been the marketing of the Raptors since day one that's helped lead us to believe that Bosh is a "new kind of star" compared to Vince Carter's selfish-laziness.

I've refrained from talking about Bosh over the summer largely because everyone else has laid in their two cents, but for me, it was just so interesting to watch Bosh sort of stumble into fame.

I mean, isn't it obvious to him that the multitude of cameras that are down in Miami aren't for him, but rather because of the event he created with his two more popular, and more talented brethren? 

Heck, I'm sure he's watched the NBA TV Special on the Miami Three where everyone was so focused on the fact that it was LeBron vs Wade for their entire training camp. 

Well, bon voyage.  We'll see you in February.

However, in what may be one of the more bizarre twists I've seen in a while, the Raptors face a Cavaliers team tonight featuring Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, and possibly Joey Graham.  It makes you feel a little for Cleveland's fans as they struggle to recover from LeBron's Exodus.  Nevertheless, this is also the same team which managed to beat the high and mighty Boston Celtics in their first game, so the Raptors have to be a bit cautious.

Fortunately for the Dinos, the Cavs seem to be without the services of Anderson "Sideshow Bob" Varejao as he goes to be with his father during his father's surgery.  (Here's hoping for the best for his father.)

In my mind though, there still isn't any time for the Raptors to be resting.  With their Western swing rapidly approaching, the team will have little time to get their act together, which brings me to my three points for tonight's game.

1) Don't Shy Away From Bargnani - I know that this one point may stir a whole lot of controversy.  In my mind though, the Raptors have to continually establish Bargnani on the inside of the Cavaliers.  It's going to take time, but Bargnani has to be rewarded when he posts up.  I'm not saying we need a Pavlovian reaction from our resident "franchise spokesperson", but getting Bargnani into a habit of getting down into the blocks can only help the Raptors. 

And heck, the Cavs don't even have Anderson Varajao. 

Yeah, there's no excuses here.  This has to be done.

2) Aggression - It's probably just going to be a continuing theme for me, but these Raptors will only be successful if they play hard.  If guys like Sonny Weems continue to dog it on the defensive end, his minutes need to go to people who will make the most of their time on the court.  Give those minutes to a hungry Julian WrightAmir Johnson not quite playing up to snuff?  Give Solomon Alabi some minutes and experience.  Jay Triano can't be afraid to give people the hook especially this early in the season because it's going to establish their accountability later on in the year. 

We have to look for some consistency from players and getting our guys into good habits is essential for our team to get wins.

3) Beat the Teams You Can - While the Raptors were competitive against the Knicks, I expect them to come out and learn from their first outing and get this win.  The Cavaliers are not going to be one of the top teams in the East and are a team that the Raptors should be perfectly able to handle with their current roster.  Yes, the Cavs beat Boston in Cleveland, but Toronto should have no problems beating guys left over from their 2008 squad.  As some readers have put it out there, our Raps have to establish their home court ASAP and get those "easier" wins at home where they can, otherwise this is going to be a very long year.

Overall though, I expect tonight's game to be an entertaining affair.  It will be nice to see if Bargnani can carry over his work from the previous game, whether our second unit can recover their step, and if DeMar DeRozan can continue to get to the free throw line.  Here's hoping we're seeing some good habits get established at the very least and a win on top of it.