Game Preview: Raptors will Try to Make it Rain

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Published: November 6, 2009

Matchup: Raptors(2-2) @ Hornets(2-3)

Off Efficiency: Raptors 114.0(3rd), Hornets 106.1(10th)
Def Efficiency: Raptors 111.2(28th), Hornets 108.1(25th)

The Raptors are explosive offensively.  114.0 efficiency so far is pretty crazy, and it’s all being generated by the Raptor frontcourt of Bosh, Bargnani and Turkoglu.  All three have been on a shooting tear, with Bargnani earning a blistering 1.6 points per shot, Hedo earning 1.48, and Chris Bosh putting down 1.64.  To put that in perspective, all of those numbers would have led the Hornets last year. 

Compound their crazy numbers and their perimeter shooting skill with the fact that the Hornets big men aren’t good at getting to the perimeter, and things could get a little dicey tonight.

Fortunately for the Hornets, the Raptors are just as determined to give up points as they are at earning them, as they have been allowing 111.2 points per posession, good for 28th in the league.  The Raptors starting five doesn’t really have anyone who could be accused of playing tough defense, and other than Antoine Wright, their bench is much the same.

It’ll be interesting to see how this game turns out.  The Hornets are reliant on post scoring and Chris Paul, while the Raptors are reliant on perimeter scoring, and neither team is built to stop either of those attacks particularly well.

Injuries:

Raptors: None
Hornets: Diogu is practicing, but still no word if he’s game-ready.

Positional Analysis

PG: Jose Calderon v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Jose Calderon had a magnificent season two years ago.  He shot well, made less mistakes than Paul, and ran the offense perfectly.  Sadly, he’s fallen off the map last year and this year, slowed by injury.  So far this season, he’s done very little, shooting and assisting at a low rate, and defending poorly – something he did even during his good season.  Chris Paul is due for a fall in his shooting numbers, but Jose Calderon is not the one who is going to make it happen.

SG: DeMar DeRozan v MoRris PeTerson
Advantage: Push
DeMar is a raw rookie, and he hasn’t done much so far this season – hitting open shots, getting a dunk here and there, and that’s about it.  He is an exceptional athelete, and that may be enough to get him open against Peterson at this point – I’m just not sure if he’ll be able to do anything once he shakes free.  Not that Morris will be doing that much himself.

SF: Hedo Turkoglu v Julian Wright
Advantage: Raptors
Hedo is a nice all-around player.  Julian should have little trouble contesting his drives, but I expect Turk to burn him on the perimeter several times.  Happily, Julian should be able to control the boards against Turkoglu with little trouble, and will probably get at least one open alley-oop against the help-happy Hedo.  Still, Hedo should win this battle.

PF: Chris Bosh v David West
Advantage: Raptors
Bosh has gone to the line an average of 16 times per game this season.  16 times.  He’s been more aggressive going to the hole after putting on some weight in the off-season, and has generally been a nightmare to defend.  West already struggled defending Bosh enough that Chandler usually ended up on him.  This could get ugly.  On the reverse side, West has always scored well against Bosh as well – just not quite as prolifically as Bosh.  On the boards, this is no contest.  Bosh rebounds, West doesn’t.

C: Andrea Bargnani v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Push
Raptors fans will trash me for this, but I’m really skeptical that Bargnani’s shooting is going to continue at this rate, and that’s really the only thing Andrea has going for him.  He doesn’t really defend, he’s an AWFUL rebounder, he doesn’t pass, he susceptible to turnovers.  I’d rather have Okafor, who can score in the post at a decent clip and still provide excellent rebounding and defense.  The only thing that makes this matchup a Push is the fact that Bargnani is on such a tear shooting.  If he slips to anything closer to normal shooting during the game, this matchup swings strongly in the Hornets favor.

Bench
Advantage: Hornets
Jarrett Jack, Antoine Wright, Amir Johnson, Rasho Nesterovich, Marco Belinelli v Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Brown, Darius Songaila, James Posey, Hilton Armstrong

I like Jarrett Jack as a backup point guard.  Amir and Rasho are a decent pair of backup bigs.  Still, though we might complain about our bench’s lack of offensive punch, the Raptors have us beat.  Marco Bellineli can fill it up quick, but is so limited in other respects, that he gets less time than Jack and Antoine Wright.  The Hornets can at least feel comfortable now that either Peja or Bobby is likely to contribute something offensively.  Usually.  Still, the advantage is a hairs breadth.

Enjoy the game.

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