The Toronto Raptors are in the Happiest Place on Earth only in that they are currently physically within the confines of the greater Orlando area. As a team, they’re far from the glory days of just three weeks ago, when they hadn’t lost seven of their last nine games, including one to this dreadful Magic team.
That’s the thing: it’s not like the Magic have found some kind of mid-season groove and are playing well. They’ve lost seven of their last nine games as well. If not for that improbable 114-113 victory over Toronto (on the road no less!) they’d be riding a six game losing streak heading into tonight’s contest.
Here are your three keys to a game that stupidly feels like a must-win for the 30-20 Raptors, even though their opponent is just 19-32.
You’re Better Than Them
Normally I like to pick out fun statistics here to sort of point of potential weaknesses Toronto might be able to exploit, but there’s such an embarrassment of riches in this area that I can’t really choose one.
Orlando is just below average in their defensive rating (22nd), defensive rebounding (19th) and average at offensive rebounding (16th). They’re pretty OK at other things you’d expect a Frank Vogel-coached team to be good at, like transition defense and taking care of the ball, but still rate in the 10-15 range in those categories. They’re just not awful at those things, so it feels like a win. They’re good at literally nothing.
You’re So Much Better Than Them
Orlando is a bottom-five team in the following categories: offensive rating, net rating, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, point differential, points per game, free throws made, free throws attempted, free throw percentage, opponent points in the paint, opponent rebounds, opponents turnovers and steals per game.
This team stinks. They stink with the power of 1000 Limburger cheeses.
Beat them like a rented mule.
Actually, I gotta say, that saying is outdated and pretty unnecessarily mean to mules.
Home is Where the Fart Is
The Magic are 8-16 at home. Even for a crappy team, that’s pretty crappy. Other than the Nets (who Toronto will see on Sunday!) they’re tied for the fewest home wins in the NBA with Phoenix and Sacramento. They’re also tied with the Suns for the second-worst home winning percentage, again trailing only Brooklyn.
I know things have been tense and DeRozan is out again and it feels like the world is crashing down. But this team is still 10 games over .500 and sitting third in the Eastern Conference. Remember when that fact alone would have given literally every Raptor fan heart palpitations? This team is flawed, sure but they can still beat the holy piss out of a sad-sack outfit like the Orlando Magic, and after the loss last week (not to mention Wednesday nights game against Boston) they’ll surely be motivated to do so.
Let’s go ahead and win this one, OK fellas? For my stinkin’ health, if nothing else.
Where to Watch: TSN1, 7:00PM