The Raptors continue their season long six-game homestand with a matchup against a horrible Bobcats team that always seems to give Toronto problems.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson
Charlotte: Kemba Walker, Jeffery Taylor, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyrus Thomas, Bismack Biyombo
Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas are out, Linas Kleiza is listed as questionable, Terrence Ross is a game-time decision but is expected to play
Charlotte: Byron Mullens is out
- The Bobcats have come crashing back down to earth and have become the team I maintained they would be despite their surprising 7-5 start. They weren’t exactly playing great basketball in that 12-game stretch, blew a lot of late leads before barely surviving, and in case anyone forgot, got away with one against the Raptors. But having said all of that, no matter how terrible the Bobcats are, they always seem to give the Raptors trouble. Case in point, two of their historically futile seven wins last season came against the Raps, with one of those wins coming in Toronto. I guess part of the problem is that the Raptors have been a pretty lousy team themselves for the last few years, but they still shouldn’t make the Bobcats look so good.
- With Ross expected back in the lineup tonight, I’ll be interested in seeing how Dwane Casey manages his rotation. Drew, Oliver and I complained about Casey’s lack of consistency with his rotation and the fact that he plays too many guys on the latest episode of RaptorBlog Radio, but then with a depleted bench against the 76ers on Wednesday, Casey could only use eight players and his five starters all logged at least 31 minutes. Even with bodies starting to get back into the lineup, I’d prefer Dwane remained that strict with his lineup and tried to keep his rotation to nine or 10 men on most nights.
- One of the storylines after Wednesday’s win over the Sixers was the fact that Jose Calderon played 31 minutes while Kyle Lowry only logged 17 (there were even mentions of Lowry leaving quickly without speaking to the media, though it seems that was blown out of proportion). Given the delicate situation of trying to balance each point guard’s minutes, effectiveness, happiness and maybe even trade value, I think we can expect to see Lowry log more than 17 minutes tonight unless he totally shits the bed. And against a quick penetrating guard like Kemba Walker, Lowry would probably be the ideal line of defence, provided he’s playing the smart perimeter defence he is capable of rather than selfish, risk-taking defence.
- I’m interested in seeing what the crowd is like at the Air Canada Centre tonight. The Raptors were getting some huge crowds through the first month or so of the season, even against weaker, less star-studded opponents while the Raps were mired in long losing streaks. But then they surprisingly fell more than 2,000 people short of a sellout for a Sunday afternoon game against the Thunder and attracted less than 16,000 for Wednesday night’s game against Philadelphia. On one hand, I expect a big crowd tonight because Friday crowds are usually strong, but on the other hand, between the last two disappointing crowds, the fact that it’s the Bobcats, and the fact that the Raptors are still nine games under .500 and five games back of a playoff spot, I worry you might see a ton of empty seats, and I certainly wouldn’t blame anybody for not spending money on this game.