Start time: 6:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Rasual Butler, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Orlando: Chris Duhon, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, Dwight Howard
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless will miss at least the next two games with a sprained ankle. Aaron Gray is out indefinitely, and I’m going to put him in the category with Linas Kleiza of guys you can assume will be out unless we hear otherwise.
Orlando: Jameer Nelson and DeAndre Liggins (who?) are both questionable for today.
Nobody outside of Orlando is paying much attention to the Magic now that the Dwight Howard trade talk has died down for the moment, but they’re off to another strong start and they’ll probably be a top-four team in the East yet again if they’re crazy enough to keep Dwight on their team for the whole season. Not much has changed with the Magic — they’re strong defensively, they’re well-coached and they shoot a buttload of three-pointers. OK, one thing has changed: Their second-best player is making $2.2 million this season and his name is Ryan Anderson.
Anderson isn’t new to me. He’s been on my radar since he started putting up some impressive scoring numbers off the bench last season. I got him with the 126th pick in my fantasy draft and he’s second on my team in fantasy points behind Blake Griffin. Now that he’s been moved into the starting lineup for the first four games of this season, he’s averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from long-range.
If those numbers don’t remind you of anyone, then you’re clearly not a Raptors fan. He’s Andrea Bargnani at roughly 25 percent of the cost. I’ve always known that Bargnani could thrive playing next to Howard, but it turns out the Magic don’t need to trade for him because they already have their own knock-off version. I should point out one significant difference: Anderson has taken 9.3 treys per game so far compared to 3.3 per game for Bargnani. When you shoot three-pointers as effectively as Anderson does, I don’t blame Stan Van Gundy for encouraging him to jack up as many as possible.
Who is going to win the Bargnani-vs.-Anderson matchup today? Am I the only NBA fan in the world who would even bother to ask this question? Probably, yeah.
- Has the insufferable and completely unnecessary controversy about whether Bargnani or DeMar DeRozan should be the Raptors’ first scoring option kicked into gear yet? At this stage of their development, Bargnani is still the more potent and well-rounded scorer. Ultimately, it might not matter because it’s unclear how he fits into the team’s long-term plans. So far this season, he’s been deadly.
- For all the good things Facebook and Twitter have brought into our lives, I don’t see it as progress that so many people were spending so much time updating their statuses and tweeting about their New Year’s Eve parties last night instead of actually making sure they got their money’s worth from their exorbitantly overpriced tickets. Can we put away our iPhones for one night, perhaps?
For today’s pre-game laugh, here’s the classic “Eradicator” sketch from the Kids in the Hall. Bruce McCulloch was always my favorite Kid.