The Raptors head to Orlando to take on the Magic after beating the Heat Sunday afternoon. The Magic are coming off a win against the Bobcats in a game that saw Dwight Howard score 4 points and collect 7 rebounds in just 26 minutes before fouling out. Hedo Turkoglu lead the team with 20. The Raptors will have to continue the front court pressure to keep Dwight Howard off balance and off his game to take advantage of our front court again. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal will need to work inside against Howard and Turkoglu as well as Rashard Lewis in the SF position. He is bringing 17 points and 7 rebounds to the floor. Should Sam put Andrea Bargnani at the SF position again, the front lines of both teams will provide us a very entertaining game.
The back-court of the Magic with Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietris will test our back court of Will Solomon and Anthony Parker as both are quick and love to attack the lane. Should Jose Calderon be available and 100%, then the back-courts should be about even and the game will fall into the hands of our front line. The game could hinge on substitutions and keeping the guys fresh and keeping the Magic off balance on defense as our guys all bring a different intensity and skill set to the floor. With JO averaging 13 points and 9 boards and CB4 averaging 25 and 10 we have the ability to keep most front courts working very hard on defense. The hallmark of Dwight and the Magic is defense with Howard averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds and Hedo adding 17.5 and 5 boards, our guys will have to work together to keep them playing hard at both ends. Howard is averaging 4.5 blocks per game which will hopefully make our guys aware of where he is and keep the ball moving as they did Sunday.
Keys to the game.
First and foremost, we will need the inspired play we got from our bench guys. Jamario Moon will need to play with the intensity he did against the Heat. Jason Kapono brought energy and some smooth shooting to the game. Perhaps neither of these guys should start as they could be great weapons off the bench. If we can get Kris Humphries to provide the same level of play in support of JO and Chris, this team will be able to put Andrea Bargnani at the SF and create havoc on the wing against smaller guys.
To win the game, the Raptors will have to keep Dwight Howard off the glass and out of the game defensively. That means ball movement and moving Jermaine and Chris in and out of the paint all night. This Raptors team loves the high – low game and will need it to work well against this mobile Magic front line. Andrea or Jamario or Jason will have to keep Rashard Lewis from bombing all night. One of the 3 or all of them will need to be in his face when he has the ball challenging him to drive. With our interior guys playing solid defensively, we need to keep him off the arc. Our guards will have to provide the solid play we got from them, as well, they will need to find a way to shut down the solid tandem the Magic provide. The game will give Solomon, Roko Ukic and Anthony Parker the opportunity to show they can be the stoppers defensively. Our guards won't be able to give up the ball so easily as 24 points off of turnovers will kill us against this team, or most teams in this league.
I think that we have the chance of taking both games in Florida and I would love to see the guys keep playing solid team defense. Our offense will take care of itself.