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Lakers vs Raptors - GameDay Preview: Raps Look to Spoil Lakers Playoff Hopes

The Toronto Raptors are in Los Angeles tonight to take on the Lakers however with only 20 games left in their season, much bigger issues are on the horizon.


"It's already started my dear good friend...the sh*t blizzard."

I was reminded of this piece of dialogue from the classic Canadian TV Series, Trailer Park Boys, yesterday, as I read Bruce Arthur and Tom Ziller's Columns on our beloved Toronto Raptors. Both pieces were bang on, Ziller's looking more specifically at the lunacy of a potential Rudy Gay extension, Arthur's, a more macro view of the malaise associated with this franchise not just this season, but throughout its history.

And both also in one way or another, touched on the fact that Bryan Colangelo's tenure as GM of the Toronto Raptors, has not been a success.

This concept of course is hardly a novel one, we've harping on this for the better part of four seasons now, but to see it laid out so boldly in print and pixel via two of the biggest and most well-respected voices in the field, really felt like the opening of the floodgates for me.

And to others.

Later that afternoon's Tim Chisholm tweeted:

Tim Chisholm@timpchisholm

Today looks to be the day that the avalanche begins that will eventually bury Bryan Colangelo. There are no scapegoats left to hide behind.

Tim Chisholm@timpchisholm

Two strong articles that will likely elicit more. Dam appears to be breaking open. RT @Goddardd: @timpchisholm What is different about today

Tim Chisholm@timpchisholm

Put it this way: LOTS of end-of-season Raps’ pieces are coming. I imagine many will approach as a referendum on BC w/ contract status TBD

Add in a few other recent articles, like Rob Mahoney's look at the NBA's "Most Problematic Contracts" featuring an entire section on the Raptors, and yes, the sh@t blizzard is on the way.

Much like earlier this season when the damn broke media-wise on the Andrea Bargnani situation, Bryan Colangelo's tenure and future is next up to bat, and it's hard to imagine many glowing reviews. We're blessed with a bevy of talented and insightful Raptors scribes currently, both in the mainstream and blogosphere, and I'm expecting a very detailed dive into the entire state of affairs.

I'm prepping something for next Tuesday on the topic, so won't go that much further into this now, as yes, there are still games to be played! Tonight the Toronto Raptors face off against the Los Angeles Lakers in LA, looking to build on Wednesday night's win over the Phoenix Suns. Here are our three keys:

1. Play the Rooks. You know what March 8th has meant for the last half a decade for us here at the HQ? It's about this time each year that we begin trotting out the "play the youngsters because you're not making the playoffs" key, on a consistent basis.

Like nearly every game.

And this year is no different as the Raps are out of the running and need to start thinking about next season and beyond. To that end, let's see rookies Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas get some more consistent playing time! This doesn't mean Dwane Casey shouldn't hold them accountable for egregious miscues, but they need a longer leash for the final 20 games.

2. Dwight Howard. Fake Superman might be having a tough season both on and off the court but he should be a major concern for the Toronto Raptors. The Dinos have been victimized by other brutish bigs this season (see Cousins, DeMarcus) and Howard, while less mobile than in years passed, fits this description quite well. In fact, to me this is the biggest question tonight as depending on how aggressive Howard is, the club may need to throw double teams at him, which of course potentially creates even more issues. Howard mano-a-mano is already a load to contend with but if the Raps double-team, this hypothetically opens lanes for Mr. Bryant, or looks for gunners like Jodie Meeks, neither of which equals a Toronto win.

3. Offensive execution. At the other end of the court, it would be nice to see some semblance of an offensive scheme from Toronto. The Lakers are hardly defensive juggernauts so theoretically it should be possible to get good looks on O without having to resort to one-on-one play every time down the court. The Lakers rank fairly low on various assist metrics, perhaps not surprisingly considering Kobe's penchant to create for himself individually. The Raptors don't have efficient enough players to get caught up playing that style of game so must look to work the ball inside and out, relying on Kyle Lowry to be their catalyst.