Raptors against the Pacers tonight and it feels like a close, grind-it-out game between two comparable teams in the Eastern Conference. Saying that, its probably going to be a blow-out for the Pacers now as I have incorrectly predicted two comfortable Raptor wins which turned out to be a blow-out and no-heart loss (NJ and Bulls)
The Raptors should have the advantage at the big men spots with Bosh playing his usual 'jumper, jumper, ... ,jumper, DRIVE!' on offense and Bargnani playing pretty awesome right now. Bosh has been relatively consistent with his jump shot but has proven again that he is not Toronto's answer in late game situations as refs usually swallow their whistle and his attempts are usually misses. Bargnani has had a very impressive 9 game streak; scoring over 17 points and his rebounding has steadily increased to a double double of 31 points and 10 rebounds against the bulls. We really need at him for late game situations as he seems to be the only raptor with ice in his blood who can create and hit his own shot.
The Pacers have a huge advantage on the wing positions with Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy. Both of these players are really coming into their own as scorers and could penetrate at will against our weak wing players. It really is a case of pick your poison of letting them have space to shoot or playing them tight and letting them drive. Considering how weak our collapse and help defense is, I would give them shot all day and hope they don't pull a Ray Allen against us. Letting them drive would create easy shot opportunities for them and the rest of the Pacers; which would increase their offensive efficiency.
The point guard battle is basically a wash with Solomon against Jack. NBA reboundtable has done a nice write-up on the performance of Solomon when he has played 15+ minutes and he has done surprisingly well; much better than what I thought he could do from "what in the world" free willy. If he continues to play within himself, there is no reason why he cannot be a backup calibre point guard in the NBA.
Raptor Republic have a nice write up on the game tonight, predicting that Pacers will eventually pull the game out due to their dribble penetration in spite of our advantage in the bigs. They also discuss Bosh's learning experience and the neccessity to win the game tonight after losing the last three.
The Toronto Star notes that Jermaine O'Neal will be playing tonight. Pretty funny how he is suddenly ready to play against his former team. O'Neal also says that Bargnani should be starting saying:
"He's earned the right to stay in the starting lineup. I have no ego about that. ... Some guys would want their starting position back, but I've been out for two weeks. ... I don't deserve the right to come back and take somebody's position that has been playing well."
People thought he might complain and be angry that he might be on the bench, but he has taken it well and seems cotent to let Bargnani start and prove he is healthy and ready to contribute again.
Hopefully we have a good performance today and pull out a close win. I am predicitng Il Mago drills a late three and the final score...
Raptors 102 - Pacers 99
Go Raps Go!
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