Charles Oakley

Are you pumped up for the return of Raptors basketball? I’m excited like Jessie Spano on caffeine pills. (#simmons) OK, not really, but now that Melo’s finally been traded we might as well watch this spunky group of youngsters play out the string, right?

When these two teams last faced each other on Dec. 14, I asked this question in the game thread: “Would you be willing to bet money that Larry Brown will make it through the season in Charlotte without leaving to spend more time with his family?” The Bobcats won that game but it would be Brown’s last win as their coach and quite possibly his last coaching win in the NBA. Since Paul Silas took over, they’ve followed up their 9-19 record under Brown with a 15-13 record and they’re now just a single game behind Indiana for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Bobcats are a tough matchup for the Raptors’ offence because Charlotte has the third-best defence in the league around the rim (60.1 FG%) while the Raptors are dead last in three-point shooting. So I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of mid-range shots tonight? Luckily, that range is DeMar DeRozan’s specialty and he’s on a nice run of scoring in double figures in 15 of his last 16 games.

Injury report

Toronto: Aside from Linas Kleiza and Reggie Evans (who might make his return tomorrow against Chicago), the Raptors have a clean slate.

Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas and DeSagana Diop are both out for extended periods.

Tonight’s Five Questions are all related to things Bobcats assistant coach and former Raptor Charles Oakley said this morning. Do you agree with Oak when he says that…

1. Raptors fans shouldn’t boo ex-Raptors because “we didn’t trade ourself, management did that”?

2. “When you’ve got a team (where) you’ve got your best player shooting three pointers you aren’t going to win nothing anyways?”

3. He and Reggie Evans are “not even in the same conversation”?

4. He made the Raptors better every season he was here?

5. Players should be flattered when they’re mentioned in trade talks because “I would take it like: ‘Hey, I’m the hottest thing on the block. I’m Beyonce or Halle Berry. So keep talking about me. My records keep selling. My red lipstick keeps selling?”

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Charlotte: D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Kwame Brown

Tonight’s pregame song is “Please, No Pictures” by BBU featuring Das Racist. Note the line that inspired my Jessie Spano reference.