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Gameday! So far things have been terrible for the Toronto Raptors. 7 games, a measly 1 win. Tonight the Raps travel to take on the Indiana Pacers who were responsible for hanging loss #1 on the 2012-13 Raptors. Throughout their history the Raptors have struggled on the 2nd game of back-to-back’s, and this may be no exception when you consider the Raps were in a triple-OT game just hours ago. Tonight is actually the 3rd game in 4 nights for the Raps which is problematic for any team.
Raps are 0-3 on the road. Pacers are 2-0 at home.
Last night was the first time this season that the Raps lost a game when out-rebounding their opponent. Jonas Valanciunas was disappointing with a mere 1 rebound, but Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, and Ed Davis combined for 30 rebounds off the bench. Despite minutes that fluctuate greatly from game-to-game Johnson is the teams top rebounder so far.
The Pacers starting frontcourt of David West, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert average a whopping 25 rebounds per game. That is twice the amount that the Raps get from their big men.
Andrea Bargnani and his struggles have hurt this team significantly this season. He averages 16 shots per game, but averages making just 6 of those (career-worst #’s for Bargs so far). Since Chris Bosh left there has been no Rap who contributes to wins like Bargnani. In the past 2 seasons Bargs is scoring 24 points per game in Raptor victories. When he plays to his potential, or rather shoots to his potential, the Raps can win games. 2012-13 has been very poor so far for Bargnani.
Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, and Alan Anderson are all likely to miss tonight’s game. In his Raptors debut Lowry was awesome vs the Pacers. He was a stat-stuffer with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals (wow, great game). That will put increased emphasis on the production the Raps get from the likes of Jose Calderon. Last season in a game at Indy Calderon went off for 14 assists.
In their first meeting this season the Pacers won by 2 on the strength of a 27-17 fourth quarter. The Raps were torched by West who went off for 14 points in that 4th Q. Inexplicably Dwane Casey allowed Bargnani to guard West 1-on-1 and it was ugly (plus it was the difference in the game). In 18 games vs the Raps (15 starts) West averages 18 points and 7 boards.
DeMar DeRozan and Bargnani shot just 9 for 29 in their first meeting with Indy. DeRozan had 37 last night. In his 3 road games this season he was great twice (24 and 25) and terrible once (2 for 10 for just 8 points at OKC Thunder).
The 2010-11 Raptors limped out to a 1-7 start. Tonight the Raps will try to buck the trends, and overcome injuries, to avoid such a poor start. Even 2-6 is lousy, but considering the circumstances of tonight’s game a 2nd win could go a long way for this teams psyche.