The Toronto Raptors attempt to create their first win streak in the Rudy Gay era against the New Orleans Hornets tonight at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto is coming off of a HUGE overtime win against the Pacers on Friday night, putting together a complete team effort. The last time the Raptors and Hornets met, the Raptors came away with a 104-97 victory on the road. The Hornets come into this matchup on a two game winning streak after victories against the Phoenix Suns and the Atlanta Hawks.
The Cage’s 5 Key’s to the game
1. The Gay Effect
Hands down the most dangerous player on the court tonight will be the Raptors small forward Rudy Gay. Last time out he started off slow, it almost seemed as if he was disinterested. However, the fourth quarter and overtime is where he really showed how he can help this ball club. Morale is high, trust between Rudy and his teammates in increasing daily. With the way the Raptors run through Rudy, he could potentially drop 30 tonight.
2. Don’t Sleep On Shooters!
Ryan Anderson, Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon and Roger Mason Jr. are all capable long-range threats. The Hornets are a 7th in the league in 3pt percentage, so the Raptors better be on top of their rotations, or they’re going to get burned.
This matchup is going to be filled with young talent in the 2012-2013 rookie class. Jonas Valanciunas will be matched up with first overall pick Anthony Davis, while Terrence Ross will be going head to head with Austin Rivers. The battle between Valanciunas and Davis will really be the matchup to look out for. If Jonas is able to stay out of foul trouble, his relentless motor could and equal length could provide problems for Davis.
4. Perimeter Penetration
The Hornets are not a team known for their superior perimeter defence. The perimeter is defended by Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon; who are below average defenders at their position. Getting through the first line of defence opens up lanes for our many slashers to get high percentage looks at the bucket.
5. True Grit
Last time the Raptors faced the Hornets, it was the grit of the Raptors that really made the difference. Alan Anderson getting under the skin of Ryan Anderson made all the difference, essentially setting the tone for the course of the game. If the Raptors can hit them hard early and get into their bigs, Toronto has a great chance of extending their winning streak.
Tonight’s X-Factor is Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry over the last few games has been relatively quiet offensively. Since taking over the primary point guard role he’s diverted to getting his bro’ Rudy Gay more involved. Tonight, Lowry’s mentality should be to attack, he’s being guarded by Greivis Vasquez, so he should take advantage of that matchup on offence.
Photo Cred: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)