Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Toronto: Linas Kleiza is out
Memphis: no significant injuries
-Shortly upon arriving in Toronto, Rudy Gay proclaimed “[DeMar Derozan] is by far the best two-guard I’ve ever played with.” This was an obvious slight at Gay’s former teammates – Tony Allen, OJ Mayo, Mike Miller – and a compliment to DeRozan. Allen decided to go on the warpath, since that’s the way Tony Allen approaches everything basketball-related and said this…
TA on Rudy saying Derozan is best SG he’s played with: “I guess that’s what the league is now. Highlight dunks & alot of points…and lose”
— Jon Roser (@Jon_Roser) February 15, 2013
Allen also noted that Paul Pierce is the best small forward he’s ever played with, so the gauntlet has been thrown down. It’s on! Allen is a vicious defender and I expect him to be right up in DeMar’s face all night. Gay will have his hands full with Tayshaun Prince, who may have lost a step but is still an all-world defender.
-The battle in the frontcourt is almost as intrguing. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas will be severely tested by perhaps the best front-court in basketball – Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Amir and Jonas’ ability to stay out of foul trouble will be critical to a victory.
-Kyle Lowry might be playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder tonight (or is that every night?) since Memphis chose Mike Conley over him to be their PG of the future 5 years ago.
-For Ed Davis, joining Memphis has meant a much smaller role. In 9 games with the Grizz, Davis is averaging just 9.9 minutes per game – after logging 24.2 mpg with Toronto this year. However, last night against the Pistons, Davis went for 14 pts, 4 reb & 4 blk, in his best game post-trade. Toronto’s bigs should be familiar with guarding Davis so there is no excuse for not sitting on his left hand.
-The NBA trade deadline is less than 24 hours away and the name that Raptors fans keep hearing mentioned in rumours is Andrea Bargnani. And rightfully so – AB doesn’t fit with the culture Dwane Casey and Bryan Colangelo are trying to build. He is no longer one of the most skilled players on this team and thus he is no longer worth the salary being paid to him ($10M per season). However, I believe the report that Bargnani will likely not be moved until summer. He can fill a role as a reserve for Toronto, as long as Colangelo surrounds him with pass-first players off the bench. There are too many shoot-happy players coming off the pine for this to be a consistent unit.
-Raptors are aiming for a 6-game winning streak which would be their longest run in 4 years.