Tonight is the Raps home opener. Which means we can expect the typical NBA home opener traditions to take place: The debut of a new intro video, a much longer pregame introduction, and an inspired effort from the home team.
The Raptors will be playing their usual role as underdog tonight against a Pacers squad that made the playoffs last year and had some tight games with the Bulls in their opening round clash. The Pacers have a balanced squad with hard working post players like Roy Hibbert, David West, and Tyler Hansbrough that can crash the boards and outwork teams on any given night. Combine that with the athleticism of Paul George, Darren Collison and Danny Granger and the Pacers have a squad that will challenge the Raptors.
The Raptors will need hustle from their post rotation as well as solid defensive performances from Jose and Bayless as Darren Collison’s speed will be a key factor in the point guard matchup. Expect a lot of help and recover from the Raps on D as Collison will be able to penetrate on the much slower Calderon, who to be fair, has shown an improvement on defense in the two preseason games against the Celtics as well as against the Cavs.
On offense the Raptors should aim to continue their balance attack they showed against Cleveland, but if that does not continue Andrea Bargnani and Demar need to improve their scoring output to give the Raptors a chance to win this game. A combined 28 points from your two best scorers is not going to cut it most nights, especially against playoff caliber teams.
This game might be ramped up due to last season’s “Late Shot” fiascoes where both teams broke the basketball code in seperate games by taking last second shots instead of running out the clock in the fourth quarter. Leading Danny Granger to drop this gem of a quote regarding Leandro Barbosa:
“If I was on him, I would have took (Barbosa’s) head off and I would have been suspended for a game for a flagrant foul, Stuff like that will sit in the back of your head the next time we play Toronto. We don’t play them again but if I was on him, I would have taken his neck off.
The Pacers have lost five straight in Toronto and the home team has won the last eleven games between the Raps and Pacers. The game tips off at 6:00 PM EST on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.