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3 in the Key - Game-Day Preview vs Bobcats

The Raptors head into Charlotte to find some kind of revenge for an earlier loss.    Can the Raptors find their defense again and play a fully focused game?  Vicious D tries to find the answer.

The other night, Raptors HQ came together to have a little meeting.

No, we didn't discuss how to remake the Raptors squad, but we did meet our new fellowship.

Starting with yesterday's short post, we'll be introducing our finalists and going through the paces of getting some extra help.

Heck, we're all getting a little older, a little grumpier, and a little bit more mature.  Ok, in theory that last one is maybe true. But that's why we need young blood; keeping things refreshing with new perspectives is always important. 

In fact, it was pretty interesting to see all three of our finalists think that Jerryd Bayless played an excellent game the other night. I wasn't sure if we all watched the same game, but from an optimist's perspective, scoring 31 points is something to build on.

It's all in stark contrast to my own beliefs which is that the Raptors are better off having a lot more Leandro Barbosa at the point for the foreseeable future, especially when Jose Calderon returns.

The other thing that has been interesting is just polling all my friends about that Detroit game. 

I'd say about 3/4s of them tuned out in the third and only about 1/4 of those guys returned back to watch the win.

It's definitely the fun thing about watching pro sports and it's nice to see Raptors fans get on the winning side of things once in a while.

However, as I said in my recap of the last game, it's just no way to build a winning mentality.

Which brings us up to tonight's game against the Charlotte Bobcats.  Coming off an absolute shellacking at the hands of the Boston Celtics, the Bobcats return home to face the Raptors.  In their 31-point loss, the Bobcats got dressed down by both Larry Brown and Michael Jordan.  The Raptors themselves have nothing to be proud of in their win against the Pistons, and we'll be looking for several points to be addressed in tonight's game.

1) Bring over the second half, leave the rest - I'm going to just out and out say it; one and a half quarters is not enough for me to believe that the Raptors have suddenly "found themselves".  The Raptors will need to start off on the correct foot and without Jose Calderon giving them that foot, it's anyone's guess as to the kind of chemistry we'll see to start the game.  Whether Bayless is on his way to figuring things out, or if Jay Triano has the guts to give him the quick hook in favour of making sure Andrea Bargnani gets established on the inside, it's going to be an unpredictable start.

I just hope they remembered half of what they did three nights ago.

2) Don't let a bad team get momentum - I'm sure the Bobcats think the same about the Raptors, but I honestly believe that the Raptors have a chance of at least making a run at a final playoff position.  If they can find that form that they had in November, it's going to have to start with separating themselves from the rest of the bottom of the league.  That includes Charlotte who is 8-15 compared to the Raptors' 9-15. 

Part of what made the Raptors dangerous in November is that they beat a lot of the teams which we thought were worse than they were, and they kept it close against those teams which we thought they were out matched.  They gave themselves a chance to win by playing some defense and by getting to the free throw line.

It also means that they can't let the sloppy plays kill them.  It's what allows the bottom feeders to have a fighting chance against you and it's how the Bobcats beat the Raptors at the ACC several weeks ago.

3) Get a defense unit out there when you need it - If Sonny Weems, Jerryd Bayless, and DeMar DeRozan all refuse to play defense, I want to see wholesale changes as far as who is on the floor.  The Raptors are a team which have depth because there's not a whole lot of distinguishing between the bottom of the starting unit to the bottom of the roster. 

Therefore, no one should feel that their job is safe.

Jay Triano has to pull the trigger on these guys if they get complacent and I hope he does tonight. 

If that means a heckuva lot more Julian Wright and Joey Dorsey, then so be it.  The message has to be continued to be sent even though it's only the 2nd month of the season.  Bad habits are not to be rewarded and the Raptors have to keep on pushing their youngsters to play the "right way".

After all, that's what developing a core is all about.