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3 in the Key: Raptors' Game-Day Preview vs. Pacers

David West comes into town with the new look Pacers.
David West comes into town with the new look Pacers.

One down, a bunch more to go. You may have heard that the Raptors beat the Cavaliers, but Kinnon Yee is conflicted, and probably will remain so for the rest of this year. Here's why.

Well, this is going to be a difficult season for me.

On one hand, yes, I want to see the Raptors improve and show that they have a defensive system in place that they can use for years to come. I mean, Dwayne Casey has essentially the same roster as last year and managed to get them to work hard and be aggressive in the season opener and the preseason.

On the other, that's just that much further away we are from the better ping pong balls of the upcoming draft.

It's a topic we'll need to revisit later, but there were a couple thoughts that we talked about the other night that are reasons why I love to liveblog.

For example, despite contrary to what a lot of Toronto Fans have been clamouring for, there's only one real point guard and his name isn't Bayless. What we saw last year and continue to see this year is that Jose Calderon still manages to be the one guy who makes this team purr like a kitten.

Which got us thinking. I know everyone wants Jose Calderon out of town on the next GO Train, but I think a lot of people have a problem with Calderon being our starting point guard and being paid like one as well.

Fact of the matter is though, the Raptors run well with him. So being a functional part of the squad who can possibly tutor your next generation of point guard, how much would that be worth to you? In my mind, 4-5 million with a player option for a 3rd year is not something I'd be against. But that's going by the previous CBA. In this environment, Calderon may only be able to fetch 3-4 million on his next contract and at that price, I sure as heck would sign him up..

However before all of that can be discussed, we've got the Raptors home opener at the ACC to get through. The Raptors will be facing off against a newly minted Pacers team which now includes David West. In a matchup like today's, I believe that the Raptors will get some good tests on their new defensive philosophy. Luckily, they'll have the home town cheer them on.

1) Bigs showdown - Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert, David West, and Jeff Foster will undoubtedly look to out rebound and out hustle our home court advantage. No offense to Cleveland but this is where real tests can be done.

You've gotta have guys like Ed Davis and Jamaal Magloire bring a much smarter game to the table today as they're going to be playing against a significantly more powerful opponent. Heck, having Andrea Bargnani vs David West should make for some interesting overall +/- measurements.

2) James Johnson Proves his Worth - Today, he's gotta be crafty and take on the likes of Danny Granger. Johnson wants to prove he belongs on that starting position, and being the answer to the league's stars is going to make him either very popular, or very over his head.

3) Defensive Identity - Well, maybe the Raptors can show that they can play defense for one game. Heck, maybe even two. But playing it while winning and losing is going to establish that identity. You know, that same one we've talked about for 3 years now.