Toronto Sports Media Game of the Night

College of Sports Media Game of the Night:

The last time the Raptors battled King James and his Mighty Cavaliers was the first game of the season for Toronto when they pulled out a 101-91 win at the ACC. Cleveland was fresh off their opening night loss to the Boston Celtics and the Shaquille O’Neal experiment was still in its infant stages. Fast forward to today and the situation is somewhat different. The James Gang has figured itself out and vaulted into the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ve won seven of their last ten games and are the fourth best defensive team in the league. James continues to lead his team in scoring (29.6 per game – #2 in the league), but this season he’s getting even better at getting his team involved. James is averaging a career best 7.7 assists. Since a pretty good start the Raptors dug themselves a deep hole in the first half of their season. They struggled through losing streaks and defensive breakdowns, dropping well below the .500 mark. Players were getting frustrated and many analyst wonder whether Bryan Colangelo did the right thing by bringing in nine new faces in the off season. Like the Cavs, the Raps have figured out where each player fits in their scheme and have turned the corner and what looked to be a disastrous season. They too have won seven of their last ten and on Sunday they beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-88 to hit the midway point one game above .500. Chris Bosh has shouldered the offensive load for most of the season, but Andrea Bargnani seems ready to help with the lifting. Bargnani has scored 20 plus points in four of his last five games and on Sunday he outplayed the man he’s most compared to Dirk Nowitzki. (NOTE: If you haven’t seen the play where Bargnani leaves Nowitzki short-less check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WpGECnscKU and fast forward until the 1:45 mark of the vid.) Tonight’s game for the Raps will serve as a perfect indicator on just how far they’ve come and maybe how far they still need to go to compete against the NBA’s elite.

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Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
January 19, 2010 10:32 am

Cleveland is a 10 point favourite, so we have to be realistic going into it. Should the Raptors hang with the Cavs the whole game, and the result is still not decided in the last two minutes that is a good result.

The team is playing its best basketball of the year, and outside of getting Turkoglu going and Evans back, we should continue to improve.

Victor
Victor
January 19, 2010 2:40 pm

I don’t think for one second that this is a must-win game for the Raptors, but you can be sure a win would go a long way for the confidence of this team. Sure beating teams like Dallas and San Antonio is great, but beating the Cavs is at another level all together.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
January 19, 2010 4:34 pm

I am a casual Raptors fan, and do not really know enough about the game to know what players are playing up to expectations, but I was wondering what knowledgeable fans think of Reggie Evans?

Is a physical presence on defense all he brings, or is he a well rounded player who will offer offence as well?

Victor
Victor
January 20, 2010 12:10 pm

Well Al, Reggie Evans still hasn’t played his first official regular season in a Raptors uniform. He injured his foot in the preseason and has said he will be ready to return to action the first game back from the All Star break. It will be interesting to see how they fit both Evans and Amir Johnson into the line up. Johnson has been a great energy guy off the bench – supplying a big body for rebounding, defence and has even stepped in as a good scoring option under the rim. All the things Bryan Colangelo was hoping for out of Evans.

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