Perfect Raptors take on ‘Moral Victory’ Magic


Toronto’s resilience Wednesday against the Thunder was a marvel to be seen. DeMar DeRozan and the cast willed their way to a hard fought victory over one of the elite teams in the West. Now the Raptors head to Orlando to try to keep the good times rolling. The Magic is no easy out, to be sure. This is an Orlando team that took the Houston Rockets team to a single overtime loss, and an Oklahoma City Thunder team to a double overtime loss.

The Magic will be missing their star center in the match-up due to a bruised knee.

You never want to go against a team not up to their full strength. Nikola Vucevic has been a problem against the Raptors while in an Orlando uniform, so it would have been nice to see Jonas Valanciunas have a tough cover to test his chops. Having said that, I don’t expect this to be a blow-out by any means, as head coach Scott Skiles has his team competing with the best of them. And don’t expect them to accept another moral victory against a more talented team.

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Keys to the game

Slow down the wings

The Magic sport three players scoring more than 16 points per game, new starter Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris, and Victor Oladipo. With Vucevic out, I expect to see a small ball lineup for most of the game with each of these three problems for the majority (just as it has so far this season).

Nov 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Orlando Magic forward Evan Fournier (10) shoots during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Magic 119-114. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptor wings will need to limit these players significantly. Dwane Casey will need to match his line-up to compensate for their speed, athleticism, and shooting. Look for more Cory Joseph and Terrence Ross to keep up.

Keep the Orlando bigs off the glass

Even though Vucevic will not be in the lineup, this team is still ranked 8th in offensive rebound rate. Tobias Harris averages over 3 offensive boards per game, while Aaron Gordon, and Dewayne Dedmon average around 2 a piece.

Luckily, the Raptors rank 6th in defensive rebound rate. The likes of Valanciunas, DeMarre Carroll and squad have cleaned up the rim pretty well in the early goings. It’s a team effort so it will be interesting to see if they can keep their guard up.

Do not become complacent

The Raptors have started the year 5-0. That’s good! NBA teams historically take the pedal off the gas when they play less talented teams. That’s bad.

Focus is the key for this squad. If they can keep their head in the game then this game should not be an issue. It will be up to the coaching staff to preach hard work and a strong effort. Orlando is no joke early in the season, they have nearly defeated the best out west twice, and they are only improving.

Next: Conclusions from Terrence Ross' extension

Key Players

Orlando: Aaron Gordon, coming off a 19 point, 8 rebound performance.

Toronto: Terrence Ross, his defense will play a big role in guarding their dynamic wings.

Prediction: Raptors win 103-91. Improve to 6-0. Raptors fans remain uneasy about the hot start.