The Toronto Raptors return home after a miserable Boston visit to face the bottom-feeding Charlotte Bobcats. Michael Jordan’s squad has been tanking for several seasons, in the hope that sooner or later the kids they draft will develop into solid professionals. However, fans of the ‘Cats must be thoroughly sick of the gestation period. We know exactly how you feel, Charlotte.
The Raps will take this game with relative ease if they:
- Get the ball inside. Per game, the Cats allow 10 more points than they score, and they have no paint presence to speak of. Jonas Valanciunas was over-matched against Kevin Garnett. However, against this team, he certainly should be able to play pick and roll in the high post, and force his way into the key from the low block. I’d be disappointed if JV scores less than 15 points. Look for Amir Johnson to do some good work on the offensive boards.
- Keep Kemba Walker under wraps. The second-year point guard is the ‘Cats leader in points, assists and steals. He’s also the same height as our Smurfs (Kyle Lowry, John Lucas, Sebastian Telfair) which should provide some fun moments as these tiny speed merchants chase each other around the court. Our forwards will need to deny the ball to their small(ish) front line. If Walker is forced to dribble for a large chunk of the shot clock, their offense will grind to a halt.
- Switch defenses a bunch. Every time I’ve seen this team, they seem to struggle with any new look thrown at them. If they come down the floor not knowing whether they will be facing a zone D or man-to-man, the youthful ‘Cats won’t be able to adjust.
Shooting guard Gerald Henderson is coming off a 35-point explosion against Boston, so the Raps will need to pay him considerable attention. I’ve been impressed with centre
Byron Mullens, their leading rebounder, and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is developing as an inside presence.
However, project player Bismack Biyombo’s progress (other than shot-blocking) can be measured in millimetres, and veteran Ben Gordon has been a negative in the dressing room.
I think DeMar DeRozan can dominate in this game, as I doubt Charlotte can contain his ability to get to the basket at will. DD will lead the Raps to a 101-87 victory.
Brian Boake is a co-editor 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.