The Toronto Raptors travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to complete their season series with the Bobcats. The ‘Cats won the October contest here, the first of the “sorry, our refs blew the call, you lose anyway” games the Raps have suffered through this season. One has to wonder how dismal the attendance will be for this game. The ‘Cats struggle with fan support at the best of times (which these are not), and the Raps rank 28th in the NBAas a visiting attraction.
The fans who do show up are likely in for some occasionally painful basketball. The Raps’ playoff odds are just 1.4%, and although the ‘Cats started the season well enough, their playoff chances evaporated during a soul-destroying 18-game losing streak. Players and coaches on both sides are trying to save their jobs. Don’t be surprised at some selfish shot attempts and poor ball movement, as players on the bubble will feel compelled to pad their stats.
The Raps proved at home last week against Charlotte that even a wobbly effort should be sufficient for a win. We can hope that our team will take fewer than three quarters of the game to wake up, instead putting this match away early by:
- Limiting Charlotte’s shot attempts. Bobcats management should be dismayed at how poorly the team rebounds. Amir Johnson destroyed Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and the other members of Charlotte’s kiddie corps on the boards last week. If Amir and friends can compel lots of “one & done” Charlotte offense, the Raps will win easily.
- Forcing their guards to shoot from outside.I like Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson, but I don’t believe they can beat the Raps with jump shots,
assuming our guards defend with vigor.
- Making their front court defend. I saw little to nothing last week to persuade me that Charlotte can stand up to repeated assaults on their big men. Jonas Valanciunas should have lots of chances to utilize his growing repertoire of low post moves, and hopefully Amir’s bloody nose (suffered in the Heat game) won’t keep him out of action. Rudy Gay showed against Miami that he is capable of attacking the basket without losing the ball half the time. Hopefully DeMar DeRozan can snap out of his shooting funk, which will draw his defender further out and set up more chances to drive the lane.
Charlotte found some scoring on Monday night, pouring in 119 points in a defense-free victory over Washington, a result I think was a fluke. The Raps will out-muscle the ‘Cats to bring home a 99-85 win.
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.