The Toronto Raptors start their weekend with a game against the Miami Heat. Will they be able to ride the momentum from their win against Denver? Or will the ping-pong ball-enthusiasts be smiling later? Sasha Kalra checks in with his thoughts...The Toronto Raptors return to the court tonight as they close out their run of recent home games. The tank was rolling earlier in the week but it seemingly encountered a road block on Wednesday. Adam Francis and I noted in our weekly report that the Nuggets game could go either way, but we still expected a loss.
The task now turns to this evening's festivities, as there will likely be a full house at the ACC awaiting the impending arrival of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and our friend, Chris Bosh. Fans were outside of the arena two hours before the game last week against the Knicks and you can expect more of the same tonight.
The Heat blew out the Dallas Mavericks last night and come into this game with a restored sense of confidence after ending their slump. Beating the Heat would require a complete team performance and it will be interesting to see if a player like Gary Forbes can continue to make a positive impression on the court.
Lebron James suffered a dislocated finger on his left hand on Monday but showed that he is able to play through the pain barrier. He is having another MVP-like season and James Johnson will have his hands full trying to contain him. Here are 3 keys that the Raptors need to keep in mind if they plan on opening up a winning streak:
1) Big 3: The 3 key players for the Toronto Raptors have to be Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, and Andrea Bargnani. The Dinos have shown that they can beat average teams when 2 of the 3 have good games, but in order to beat an elite team such as the Heat, all 3 need to show up. Calderon is likely to face a combination of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, and he has a chance to use his experience and decision-making to outwit the two young guards. DeRozan and Bargnani have been up and down in recent games and they'll both have to put in good shifts to ensure a win.
2) Force Others to Make Plays: The MIami Heat have 3 all stars and their trio can beat you in a variety of ways. Fan and expert opinions on their supporting cast differs from week to week as their role players tend to drift in and out of games. It would be wise to force these role players to play well at both ends of the floor and see what happens. They might show up, and you're looking at an even higher mountain to climb. Conversely, they might shrink, and that would make it a much closer game. When the team you support is the Toronto Raptors, you likely take your chances on this one.
3) Keep the Crowd in It: The crowd is going to be loud and proud for this one. The noise level will be at its highest as the starting lineups are called out, and it will continue up until the game's first TV timeout. Afterwards, some sections might be having a drink, some might be eating, and some might be disengaged. Keeping the crowd involved in the game can only play into the Dinos hands as they will be sure to notice and recognize players that are giving their best efforts. Whether that means diving for loose balls or bringing in Jamaal Magloire to give Chris Bosh a hard foul or two, keeping the crowd loud and engaged can only help the Raptors' cause.