Trail blazers/Raptors Pre-Game
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 02/24/2010 1:59 PM

    Game 2 of the five-game road trip takes Portland (33-26) up to the Great White North to take on Toronto (31-24) for the first time this season. The Trail Blazers are 2-1 in their last three trips to the Air Canada Centre, with each game being a nail-biter, decided by an average of six points. After spraining his ankle in last night's win over New Jersey, Marcus Camby has been officially ruled out for the game tonight. No, it is not all doom and gloom though Blazer fans. The same ankle sprain is going to keep superstar forward, Chris Bosh, out of the lineup for the Raptors as well. I don't think you could find many Trail Blazer fans who wouldn't make that trade-off for tonight.

    The biggest key tonight for Portland will be defense. Toronto is the NBA's 4th highest scoring team at 104.67 per night, and the Trail Blazers are only 4-14 when allowing their opposition to reach the century mark. Without Bosh and his 24.5 points a night, there should be no excuses in allowing Toronto to come anywhere near 100 tonight. Missing their only interior post presence, look for the Raptors to bombs away from downtown, as they are 4th best in the league, shooting 37.5% as a team from three. Toronto possesses five players, with at least 100 or more attempts from three, who shoot the 3 ball at, at least a 36% clip. Former Blazer Jarrett Jack is tops on the Raptors, shooting 41.2%, backup Jose Calderon isn't far behind with his 40.8%, sharp shooter Marco Belinelli is at 38.2%, our friend Hedo Turkoglu is accurate 37.4% of the time, and rounding out the top 5 is former #1 overall pick, Andrea Bargnani, who nails 36.7% from distance. Needless to say, if Portland doesn't show enough effort or gets sloppy on their rotations, it will be a long night in Canada.

    Everything the Blazers should do tonight should be to exploit the absence of Chris Bosh. After his dominating performance last night over the Nets, Portland should not only feed Aldridge to start the 1st and 3rd quarters, but continue to ride him at the end of quarters. For whatever reason, we go inside to him, it works, then we simply go away from him. For the Raptors, the choice of who to defend LaMarcus with is slim pickings to say the least. All of their available bigs are either soft or short. I would assume Bargnani will get the call on LA, but he could see Patrick O'Bryant, Reggie Evans, or Rasho Nesterovic on him throughout the game. If LMA is hitting his shots in the post, attacking the basket, and drawing double teams, there should be no way the team loses tonight. Again, it is very imperative to cut to the hoop when the inevitable double team heads towards Aldridge. Toronto may even try a trapping style of defense to throw the Blazers off their game in hopes of forcing some early turnovers.

    The keys to the game are no different than they were last night. Whenever you are playing an inferior team on the road, you must respect but never fear your opponent. Last night the Blazers played above the level of competition for 2 quarters, then let up, thinking the Nets would roll over and die. If the Blazers come out like they did against the Lakers when they found out Kobe was out and figured it'll be easy, it's going to be a quick loss. Along with taking the Raptors seriously (without Bosh), they'll need to limit second chance points, turnovers, and fast break points. Just like the Nets, make the Raptors earn everything they get from the perimeter, only make sure to always challenge the shot, unlike last night's ball game.

    After a pessimistic outlook to start the road trip in Jersey (can you blame me after the Jazz loss?), I am optimistic about Portland's chances to get a nice 2-0 start to their five-game road trip tonight. The main reason of optimism has to due with our two superstars, Roy and Aldridge, finally appearing to be on the same page. Anytime you have a guy like Roy healthy, you are always going to be in the game, with his ability to always hit game changing shots or getting to the foul line to stop the bleeding. Jarrett Jack is a pretty stocky point guard and a decent defender, which could limit Dre's scoring ability tonight, but again, the bench could be huge tonight. If at least one of our bench scorers is on, we'll get it done. Whether it is Bayless attacking the rim, Dante knocking down mid-range jumpers off of the pick and pop, Webster draining 3's off of kick outs, or Rudy making plays happen in transition.
    Game 60 Prediction: Trail Blazers 97 Raptors 92
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