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3 in the Key: Cavaliers vs Raptors

As the Raptors face the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kinnon Yee says, if you want Bargnani gone, you better hope he plays well.

It's ok Dwane.  Put your hands together for Bargs next time.
It's ok Dwane. Put your hands together for Bargs next time.

Hey, I don't like it either.

Andrea Bargnani got tons of burn with little result, and well, it seems almost vindictive at how much Il Mago is being crammed down the throat of the Raptor fan.

And yes, if you want to boo, you have every right to. I want to do it too.

But here's the thing. Think of the long run.

If you want Andrea Bargnani out of town, you better hope his trade value goes up from now until the end of the season, because that seems to be the mandate laid down by Colangelo.

I know I asked questions the last time I wrote an article, and those questions were about what the Raptors will do from here to the end of the season with Il Enigma.

I think we got our answer.

Dwane Casey Bryan Colangelo is going to keep trotting out the mule to see if he can entice prospective buyers over the summer. And barring any injuries, I doubt his minutes fall below 10 per game, and will probably average around 15-20.

So if you want Bargs out, supporting him to play well might be the best answer.

Across the arena though, we have one of the brighter teams in the league. Among "up and comers" out there, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of potential to reach quite high in the next few years. It's interesting to see the differences though between how the Cavaliers have approached building a team compared to what the Raptors have done since the Miami super team was created.

With a solid core of players who look to mature at the same time, Cleveland has bit the bullet for several years, landed a #1 draft pick in Kyrie Irving, and now probably look to add some veteran leadership in the off season to take them to the next level.

And while their record hasn't shown results yet, the Cavaliers participation in the All Star rising stars competition shows that they have some very attractive pieces which make them a pretty dangerous team. The Raptors will look to take advantage of the Cavs coming off a game last night against the Chicago Bulls.

1) Challenge Kyrie? - If Kyrie plays tonight (he didn't against the Bulls), the Raptors will need to continue to be aggressive in how they defend the Cav's star player. If he doesn't Shaun Livingston is not in the same league as Irving. In their loss to the Cavaliers earlier this year, they allowed Kyrie to score 32 points on them, with 12 coming in the fourth. If Kyrie is allowed to dictate the flow, the Raptors will be in trouble.

2) Refocus, recalibrate - The Raptors did not shoot well the previous game, and is indicative of their current team structure. Guys like Alan Anderson, Rudy Gay, and even guys lower on the totem such as Terrence Ross all seem to need to be in a groove in order for the Raptors to play well. That's part of the danger of having a team of streaky shooters.

What's funny is that Gay talked about leadership and consistency yesterday, when he was the one with the horrid shooting game. So we'll see whether he can back up his words with actions.

3) Play as the bigger, badder team - Look, I don't think the Raptors should lose this game on paper. We have the stronger, bigger team which should be able to push around the Cavs if they play tough. Guys like Amir Johnson and even Jonas Valanciunas should be able to have their way against the Cavaliers.

Tristan Thompson no longer has to contend against Ed Davis though, so the Raptors need to be aggressive and play as the smarter, more experienced team. The Raptors can't allow someone like Luke Walton to go off on them like the Chicago Bulls did last night, otherwise the Raptors will lose to the Cavs the same way the Bulls did.