After snapping their slump in convincing fashion against the Hornets, the Toronto Raptors are back on the road to face the Orlando Magic. This will be the first game of a back to back for the Raptors as they’ll play the Heat tomorrow night. The Magic haven’t been in the eastern conference playoff picture for some time, however they’ll still have the chance to alter standings should they come out with a win. The Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards are also in action against each other; which makes this seeding situation even more interesting. If the Wizards win, they’ll move into a tie with the Raptors, but will remain the 5th seed. If the Nets come away victorious than they’ll move up to the 7th spot in the East. Placing themselves just a game and a half behind the Milwaukee Bucks who’ve been holding down 6th place in the East for quite some time. Playing the Magic so late in the season could very well be a trap game for Toronto. Kyle Lowry is a game-time decision while Amir Johnson remains questionable for tonight’s contest with a sore ankle.
*Update* Kyle Lowry will play, has been reinserted into the starting lineup.
Cages Keys to the game:
The Magic may not be playoff bound this season but that is no reason for the Raptors to take any team lightly at this point in the season. With only four games remaining before the post-season the Raptors need to handle their business in Orlando. The Magic are on an upswing of late having won their last three games. Two of those wins coming against strong defensive teams (Chicago and Milwaukee). The Raptors haven’t seen the Magic since December, so expect Orlando to come out and attempt to throw Toronto off their game in front of their home crowd.
As mentioned before, the Raptors only have four games remaining. The Magic aren’t a terrible team, so look for Dwane Casey to give his bench some extended minutes. If the Raptors can get out to strong start and create a cushion for themselves, the starters should get a little breather in hopes to preserve their bodies for what’s sure to be a gruelling first round series against the Bucks or the Wizards. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for another Chuck Hayes sighting.
In the Raptors game versus the Hornets, it seemed as if the team had found their defensive stride again. The Magic are a team built on players with potential; and after getting some confidence boosting wins to close the season they should be feeling pretty good about themselves. When a team has nothing to lose, they’re usually the most dangerous. It allows them to play freely because now they’re playing for the love of the game, pride and ultimately to increase their value heading into the offseason. Toronto needs to put this game away early by duplicating their defensive intensity from their last game.
X-factor : Greivis Vasquez
Tonight’s X-factor is the Venezuelan sensation – Greivis Vasquez. After a solid performance against the Hornets, look for GV to keep his mojo flowing in Orlando. This type of game warrants heavy minutes from the bench as the Raptors continue to fine tune for the post season.