Today is Friday, February 1st 2013. Forget about the blown call against the Atlanta Hawks. This day marks the beginning of a new era in Raptor-land with acquisition of fringe All-star Rudy Gay. The Toronto Raptors (16-30) are on another three game losing streak and hope to snap it at home against the elite Los Angeles Clippers (34-13) at home. Not only do the Raptors welcome Rudy into the lineup, but tonight’s game is also looking at the potential return of rookie Jonas Valanciunas who has missed his last 18 games with a broken finger. This should be an exciting matchup, and a true test for the new-look Raptors with “Lob-City” coming into Toronto.
The Cage’s 5 Key’s to the game
1. No Excuses
Tonight the Raptors face a unified Clippers team that plays great basketball on both ends of the court. If the Raptors plan on staying in this contest they can’t look for the referees and must simply play hard every possession.
2. Hands Off
This Clippers roster is filled with crafty ball handlers that are able to create their own shot with a few crossovers. If the Raptors aren’t focused defensively they can get caught watching the ball, therefore resulting in reach-in fouls. Playing good pressure defence by simply moving your feet will suffice with offensive players who like to dance. Treat them like a lady, hands off…show some respect.
3. Lets See What Rudy Gay Can Do!
We just got rid of Ed Davis, and Jose Calderon. Mixed emotions everywhere among Raptor fans. We’re spending TOP dollar on him, might as well throw him in right away and get our money’s worth.
4. Box Out
The Raptors have lost one of their best rebounders in many years. To make up for that, getting exceptional positioning against Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be the only way to contain these athletic monsters. The return of Valanciunas helps, but his time will more than definitely be limited.
The addition of a new player always calls for an adjustment period. However the Raptors are falling in the Eastern conference playoff standings and need to face every game with desperation. Rudy Gay hasn’t had the time to practice, or learn the defensive schemes like everyone else, so he will be a step behind on rotations. Getting him up to speed on the defensive end of the court will be essential, and the only way to do that is talk to each other all game long.
The Raptors Cage X-Factor for tonight’s game against the Clippers goes to Amir Johnson. It may not show on the stat-sheet, but he’s going to have a hell of a game dealing with Los Angeles’ frontcourt. His heart, and more importantly his hustle will be pivotal in keeping the Raptors afloat in this contest.
Photo Cred: Nathan Denette , Canadian Press