The Toronto Raptors (15-27) are trying to split their mini two-game Florida road trip against the Orlando Magic (14-27). The Raptors are looking for a rare season sweep, and have the opportunity do so with a victory in Orlando. The last time these two teams met the Raptors went on an offensive tear hitting 15 three-pointers putting up arguably one their best complete performances of the season winning that game 123-88 in Orlando. The Raptors are coming off a tough overtime loss against the World Champion Miami Heat, it was competitive basketball nonetheless. Orlando is on a 3-game losing streak and will have to match the intensity of a hungry Raptors team who have had their way with the Magic all season.
The Cage’s 5 Key’s to the game
1. Come Out With Energy
As hard as that may sound based on the game the Raptors played last night. It is imperative that they come out with energy because the Raptors have an odd tendency to play to the competition of their opponent. Instead of letting the Magic set the tone get at them early because they’ll be looking to feed off of our fatigue.
2. Bench Production
After a grueling overtime game the Raptors are thrown right back into the thick of things. Playing a skilled team like Miami saw the rotation tighten up tremendously. Expect to see Dwane Casey use more of his bench tonight to give some of his heavy horses a breather.
3. Use Our Size
Strange as this may sound, size is an advantage for the Raptors tonight. With the return of Glen Davis, the Magic no longer have the same length in the front-court. On paper the Magic do have a bigger team, but Ed Davis plays larger than life and the Magic have a lot of small guards. If the Raptors are able to take advantage of our size coming out the backcourt the Raptors should be able to walk away from this road trip with a 1-1 record.
4. Commit to Playing 4…or more quarters of Basketball
The story for the Raptors over their last few losses has been a tale of execution. Crucial turnovers at the end of regulation, capped by questionable coaching decisions essentially sealed the fate in what could’ve been the win of the season for the Toronto Raptors. Maybe seeing their ability to compete against elite NBA competition could steer them in the right direction in helping the Raptors channel their focus when it matters the most.
5. Hit the Boards
After playing last night, expect to see some tired legs later on into the game, meaning some short jumpers. Getting offensive rebounds and limiting Orlando’s transition game will be essential to the Raptors preserving energy down the stretch in order to finish strong. Amir Johnson and Landry Fields will be key in this effort.
Tonight’s X-Factor is Raptors power forward “Big Boss” Ed Davis. After coming out strong against the Miami Heat, he was placed on the bench for an extended period of time. When Amir Johnson fouled out, he was overlooked in favor of Aaron Gray. He’s been a monster since being placed in the starting line-up averaging almost 13points and 8 rebounds.
Photo Cred: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)