Before the Games started, most analysts would have conceded this game to Lithuania. However, France jolted Group A by taking down Argentina yesterday, and Lithuania has failed to impress. As a result, this game has taken on extra significance, and is now a toss-up (in fact, British oddsmakers favour France).
Our Lithuanian Raptors are going to have to step up, particularly Jonas Valanciunas, who has disappointed so far. His PT has been severely limited, perhaps by an overly controlling coach, but definitely by too many fouls. JV has 6 fouls, and only 10 points, in 26 minutes of PT in 2 games. His play is eerily reminiscent of Andrea Bargnani’s first season as a Rap, when AB would pick up silly fouls out on the periphery and end up with splinters in his shorts. From our selfish point of view, better JV have his baptism of fire in London than in Toronto; however, we want him to learn how to stay on the floor, and that means stay away from silly fouls, and help your team win.
Linas Kleiza has re-established his skilled veteran bona fides with efficient and effective play so far. He’ll need to find another element in his game if his squad is going to take this must-win game. Linas has only 1 3-pointer so far, and victory is not in the cards if he doesn’t find his outside range.
France featured a balanced attack and strong defence to defeat the Argentines. Tony Parker hasn’t drained a 3-pointer so far in 7 tries, but I don’t expect that drought to continue. My man Kevin Seraphin has 4 blocks in only 22 minutes of PT, so he’s establishing himself as a force in the paint.
Lithuania is in tough. They haven’t played the U.S. yet (an almost certain defeat) and a loss to France would be a death knell to their hopes of advancement. As Raps’ fans, we’d love JV to have his much anticipated breakout game right here. Linas will contribute, but how much? This will be the closest game of Group play so far, and I’ll call Lithuania by a bucket.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.